Bury Councillor Rishi Shori made history when he became the first council leader in Greater Manchester to come from a BME background in 2016, as well as being the youngest leader in the Council’s history.

Now armed with commitment and positivity, Rishi reflects on how his childhood and family shaped his political trajectory.

“From a very early age, perhaps like a lot of children of immigrants into this country, I knew I was different and sometimes that difference led to me or my family being treated unfairly. 

“This spurred my interest in entering the law and eventually I became a solicitor. 

“What really induced my interest in politics was when I was at University in the early 2000s. 

“The build up to the invasion of Iraq had just started and I was vehemently opposed to the war. I became politically active as a result. 

“It made me realise that if you want to change things positively in life, being able to influence decision makers is crucial.”

Rishi applies this same ethos when working with young people and dedicates much of his time ensuring they have a voice and the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

“Young people are often overlooked despite the fact that a lot of the big decisions being made today will affect their lives for decades to come. 

“Becoming involved in politics allows young people to be heard and gives them the opportunity to carve their own destiny and that of their peers.”

To reiterate his beliefs, Rishi was involved in setting up the first Youth Combined Authority in the country which enables local young people to have a say in what is taking place in their local areas and shape the policy of the Mayor, Andy Burnham.

In an era of political uncertainty, Rishi believes the “togetherness of the communities of Greater Manchester” is a great place to build on.

“I recently Chaired a Commission on behalf of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham looking at how we can improve social cohesion within the City Region. The report entitled a 'Shared Future' highlighted that within the communities of Greater Manchester there is certainly a great sense of unity and solidarity. 

“There are strong foundations but we cannot be complacent, particularly at a time when society feels more divided than ever, driven by steep inequalities manifesting itself around issues such as the debate around Brexit.”

In addition to his notable credentials, this year also saw the council leader voted as one of the 36 BAME people among the UK's 1,000 most powerful.

“I realise I am in a very privileged position to be able to improve the lives of residents within my borough and beyond. 

“A person's time in politics can be very short so I am committed to making as much positive change as I can. 

“I am motivated to ensure that everyone in my borough can get the best start in life, can live well and grow old with dignity. 

“I want to set an example and break down barriers so other people can follow in my footsteps.”

The Interview with Cllr Rishi Shori appears in this month's Asian Life which can be viewed here