Magid’s fled war-torn Somalia aged five with his family and arrived in the UK unable to speak English, 23 years later he is the Lord Mayor of Yorkshire town of Sheffield and has promised to do things differently.
“I hope by the fact I am a black, Muslim immigrant – everything the Daily Mail probably hates – people will look and say ‘In Sheffield we’re proud of doing things differently and celebrating our differences’,” he says.
Today Magid becomes the 122nd holder of the ceremonial role of Lord Mayor. He will be, according to convention, Sheffield’s first citizen, meeting high-profile visitors, attending the most prestigious functions and acting as the city’s arrowhead.
“It’s exciting,” a beaming Magid says, chatting expansively and dressed in a crisp T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap turned backwards. “It’s a bit bizarre to be honest. It definitely feels a bit surreal, but it’s a massive privilege and honour. A lot of my family and friends can’t believe it.” In fact, the level of disbelief from others is sufficiently high that it ‘gets a bit awkward’.
Elected councillor for Broomhill and Sharrow Vale two years ago, Magid has in the last 12 months been the deputy Lord Mayor.
After leaving Fir Vale School, Magid studied marine biology at Hull University, where he became involved in student activism and was elected the students’ union president, despite not being an ardent political type.
On return to Sheffield after graduation, Magid observed the rise of far right, anti-immigrant party, Ukip’. “There’s that saying – if you don’t do politics, politics will do you. The Green Party’s core principles and values spoke to me.”
He stood as a candidate where he lives in Broomhill, winning with 1,882 votes. “Whatever opportunities I get, I just grab. I really have no idea what I’m doing in life, in the sense that I haven’t got a plan. As long as I’m always bettering myself, and pushing myself, that’s the main thing.” Magid now divides his time between council duties and freelance digital work.
“There’re only four Green councillors, there’s not many of us to spread the workload, but I love it because I’m constantly meeting new people doing amazing things.”
“Minority ethnic groups are doing amazing things in this city.” Magid is required to pick three charities to support. Mental health organisation Flourish, Sheffield Women’s Counselling & Therapy Services and the Unity Gym Project will benefit from his patronage this year and he has set a target of raising £100,000, which would be a record for a Sheffield Lord Mayor. “I hope I am not setting myself up to fail.”
Magid is not a fan of the establishment and we asked him what he would do if, for example, the Queen visited Sheffield again as the monarch did in 2015.
“I believe we should have an elected head of state. I love the Queen, she’s hard-working and a lovely person – but the system is outdated. I wouldn’t even do a toast to the Queen. I can’t please everyone. I will stick to my own principles.”