Inspiring Jamala honoured to win national Rotary award

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 April 2018

Jamala Osman accepting her award at the National Rotary Young Citizen Winners event on Saturday, April 7. Photo: Rotary UK

Jamala Osman accepting her award at the National Rotary Young Citizen Winners event on Saturday, April 7. Photo: Rotary UK


The runner-up of the Recorder’s Young Citizen campaign has gone one better in a UK-wide version of the competition and scooped the national Rotary Young Citizen award.

Jamala Osman was just 14 when she was kicked out of her father’s home in Ilford, after her mother died and she lost contact with her siblings.

But she quickly decided to turn her life around, and after reconnecting with her siblings at the age of 18, took over care responsibilities for her younger brother and sister.

She soon found herself accepted on to a highly competitive Barclays apprenticeship programme in 2012 and the company fully funded her degree. She became one of the youngest branch managers at 21 and is now managing a branch in Covent Garden.

Jamala, now 24, said: “I’m incredibly honoured to receive this award. I would like to dedicate it to all the young people who don’t have it easy, who can’t see a way out of their current circumstances.

“I want them to know that anything is possible.

“I want to help other young people get into work and achieve their dreams.”

Former Loxford School pupil Jamala received her trophy and a £500 cheque to be donated to a charity of her choice at this year’s Rotary Young Citizen winners event, hosted by BBC presenter Ellie Crisell at the Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Conference, Torquay on Saturday, April 7.

Rotary in Britain and Ireland President Denis Spiller said: “Jamala’s bravery is a real inspiration to us all. She overcame frightening odds and is not only supporting her family but is leading her own life.

“I look forward to meeting her at the Rotary conference.”

When Jamala is not working or spending time with her family, she coaches a girls’ football team, writes and performs her music and has represented Barclays at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok and Bogota.

She also regularly speaks at schools about mental health to combat the stigma surrounding it and hopes her story can inspire others to make positive choices in their lives despite challenging circumstances.

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