Chair and Founder of the Foundation, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was the first Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet. For over two decades, she has championed inclusive communities by improving social mobility, promoting interfaith dialogue and advocating women’s rights.
Born in Yorkshire to immigrants of Pakistani origin. She studied law at Leeds University and worked for the Crown Prosecution Service before setting up her own legal practice. She was elevated to the House of Lords aged 36, making her the youngest peer in Parliament. Later that year she traveled to Sudan and helped to secure the release of the British teacher Gillian Gibbons who was on trial for blasphemy.
In 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her Minister without Portfolio and Chairman of the Conservative Party, making her the first Asian to chair a major British political party. Two years later, she became Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities at the Department of Communities and Local Government. Sayeeda delivered a series of faith-based interventions, established the UK’s first anti-Muslim working group to tackle Islamophobia and led the UK’s largest ever ministerial delegation to the Vatican. On the international stage, she chaired a group of foreign Ministers who sought to identify practical actions to combat religious intolerance and violence in the name of religion.
A champion for gender equality, Sayeeda led the government’s campaign to criminalise forced marriage, spoke out on the sexual grooming of children by gangs and worked with global faith leaders to prevent sexual violence against women and girls in conflict. A firm believer in social mobility, she introduced a civil service internship scheme for young people from deprived backgrounds. A racial justice and human rights campaigner for many years, Sayeeda was instrumental in the launch of Operation Black Vote and served six years at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
Sayeeda resigned from Government in August 2014, citing the Government’s “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza. She founded the Baroness Warsi Foundation to help create more inclusive societies. She is currently a Member of the Advisory Board for the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, a visiting professor at St. Mary's University and pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Bolton.
Eric Ollerenshaw OBE is a British Conservative Party politician who served as the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood from 2010-2015. He is currently Chair of the Government's Independent Review of Local Council Tax Support Schemes. In Government, Eric campaigned on issues relating to education, energy and healthcare including earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer as the first Chairman of the APPG on Pancreatic Cancer. Over the last decade, Eric has also been involved in a number of initiatives to help promote a more inclusive political landscape.
A former history teacher, Eric was the first in his family to attend university. He went on to teach at several comprehensive schools and improving social mobility continues to be a priority. Eric was previously a Board member of Great Ormond St. Hospital School, a successful local councillor, a member of the London Assembly and of the Metropolitan Police Authority. He was awarded an OBE for Public and Political Service in 1990.
An award winning entrepreneur and philanthropist, Shahid Azeem is the Managing Director of Arcom IT and Chairman of Aldershot Football Club.
Shahid arrived in the UK at ten years old, not able to speak English. After leaving school with no formal qualifications, his passion and entrepreneurial flair led to a career at international firms, Price Waterhouse and AT&T. He went on to create and sell a multi-million pound IT company, before becoming the owner and Managing Director of Arcom IT in 2009.
Named as one of the UK’s 100 most influential Muslims, Shahid is a business mentor, motivational speaker and visiting fellow at the University of Surrey. A long-term supporter of charities, Shahid founded the Woking Asian Business Forum, is on the Board of the British Pakistan Foundation and acts as an Ambassador for Mosaic, a charity founded by the Prince of Wales in order to encourage young people to realise their potential. Shahid is passionate about the transformative role of football and is a Board member of Sporting Equals, a charity promoting ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity.
Margaret is a solicitor specialising in criminal law in London and the South-East of England. Born in Yorkshire, Margaret was raised in a working class family and attended a Roman Catholic convent school. At seventeen years old, Margaret left the UK to work and travel overseas. After returning to the UK, Margaret decided to pursue her ambition of becoming a solicitor. She returned to education, enrolling at her local college in 1995, before reading law at Leeds University. Margaret qualified as a solicitor in 2002.
Today, Margaret is a firm believer that with the right support and encouragement, anyone can fulfil their true potential. Over the last thirteen years, she has supported an orphanage in Kerala, helping to engage children through education and sports. She credits her strong social conscious to her background and Catholic faith.