What exactly does a Councillor do? For this particular Councillor it was more about what she doesn’t do for her community! Her drive and passion are relentless and I met her during the pandemic when her community needed her more than anything. We met at the Bilal centre in Leeds one of the most successful vaccination centres.
She was a blur of busyness ensuring she met all the staff and volunteers at the centre, whilst grabbing a bit of time for me. What strikes you about Salma when you meet her is her devotion and commitment to her job and to the people she serves. It comes from a very personal deep place inside her, and because of that it drives her to constantly be addressing the needs where she can, and serving where she can.
Not only is she a compassionate public servant but she is also a creative one. I saw that in action, for example the women only vaccination clinics that she helped to make happen. She is a make it happen kind of woman!
She was given public health to look after just as the pandemic broke. Most would struggle under that pressure so early on in their career, but this was like fuel to Salma, fuelling her to do more and be more for the people that needed her. “It needed someone to put their all in, and that’s what I did and will continue to do as an elected member, peoples lives were at stake”
I know she is so passionate about the people she serves, she takes on their worries and their concerns “people were scared, people were dying, people did not know where their next meal was coming from, it was all hands on deck, not just me but the city has a whole. Everyone just came together,” she told me. “People look to me for help, and although sometimes it was tragic, and it was so sad to hear and see some of the things I did, I had to keep going and do my job, that’s what I am here for, and it’s a job I love doing”
When you ask her if she has had time to process any of the pandemic and how it has affected her personally? “Not really it has been one big blur really, its like we’ve all been on a roller coaster for months, but we had to just get on with it and protect the public”
“Things are still hard, people are exhausted, we have all been through so much, and so it’s still intense out there”.
There is still a lot of work to do for Salma.
She says, “ Political leadership is so important, it impacts lives. How we lead a city is so important particularly through difficult times. Leeds came together as a city which I am so proud of”
“The day I stop caring about what I do will be the day I walk away”