Qaisra Shahraz is the Founder, Curator and Executive Director of MACFEST, Muslim Arts and Culture Festival. She is a prize-winning and critically-acclaimed novelist, scriptwriter, peace and gender activist. Qaisra was born in Pakistan and has lived in Manchester since childhood. Qaisra has gained two Masters Degrees in English & European literature and scriptwriting for television.
Qaisra has won the prestigious National Diversity, ‘Lifetime Achiever Award' for services to ‘Literature, Education, Gender and Interfaith Relationships’ in 2016. In 2018, she gained the University of Salford ‘Alumni Achievement Award’ for having achieved distinction in her multiple careers and for contributions to the arts and community cohesion. In 2017, Qaisra was recognised by Lovin Manchester as number 1 in a list of '50 Most Influential Women in Manchester'. Similarly she has been recognised as one of 100 influential Pakistani women in 'Pakistan Power 100 List' and included in the ‘Muslim Power 100’ list (2018).
She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a literary judge, a former Director of Gatehouse Books, an advisor to International Journal IJRHS and Asia Pacific Writers and Translators partnership. Her novels, The Holy Woman, Typhoon, Revolt and collection of short stories, A Pair of Jeans and other stories and The Concubine & The Slave Catcher - stories from around the world, have been translated into several languages including Mandarin. Her book, Holy Woman won the Bradford Waterstones' title of 'Best Book of the Month' and has been a bestseller for 15 years in Indonesia. Her novels and stories including A Pair of Jeans are studied in schools and universities. A critical analysis of her works has been done in a book entitled The Holy and the Unholy: Critical Essays on Qaisra Shahraz’s Fiction (2011). She has appeared in many international writers’ festivals and book fairs. Her award-winning drama serial Dil Hee To Hai was broadcast on Pakistani Television in 2003.
Qaisra has enjoyed a successful career in education as an Ofsted inspector, a quality manager, assessor, education consultant and international teacher trainer including working under the auspices of the British Council. She is highly committed to promoting community and social cohesion through her roles as MACFEST Director, a trustee of Manchester Multi Faith Centre, Co-Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester' Co-Chair of 'We Stand Together,' Executive Member of Manchester Muslim-Jewish Forum and a UK partner with New York's Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
Mohammed Ali, born in Pakistan, came to live in the UK at the age of 12. He studied at
Huddersfield and Bradford Universities. He then worked in a succession of newly created
development roles with Glaxo Pharmaceutical, Community Relations Council; Tameside
metropolitan Borough Council, Sheffield City Council and Fullemply Group, a high profile
London based national ethnic minority training and employment charity.
In 1990 he founded QED Foundation: an ethnic minority economic development social
enterprise, raising £16m from the public and private sectors to train and help 35,000 people
directly, and thousands more indirectly, into employment, self-employment or further
education. In 2017 he founded Poverty Alleviation Scholarships Foundation, which tackles
abject poverty in developing countries by enabling people from poor backgrounds to acquire
vocational training leading to employment or self-employment. Mohammed Ali has attended,
as participant or speaker, seminars and conferences in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada and
Asia on the challenges facing the integration of ethnic minorities.
He has won many accolades for his work including doctorate from Bradford University and in
2001 Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from HM the Queen for his work with
communities. He is a governor of York St John University; member, Common Purpose
Pakistan Diaspora Leadership Programme; Social Research Council Peer Review College;
Third Sector Consortium LLP Board; European Migration Forum. Numerous past
appointments included: West Yorkshire Learning and Skills Council; NHS Teaching Primary
Care Trust; National Consumer Council; Bradford University School of Management
Advisory Board; Prescription Pricing Authority; elected to the Association of Chief Executives
of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) Board; Diversity Officer for the Institute of Directors;
and the BBC Northern Region Forum.
Aamer Naeem qualified with 1st class honours as a pharmacist in 1992 and gained a Masters in Business Administration with distinction in 2007. He is currently the Director of Innov8 Creative Solutions Ltd, a consultancy providing strategic and operational support to a range of organisations as well as delivers Leadership Development Programmes across public, private and voluntary sectors. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Penny Appeal, a large domestic and international relief and development agency. He has sat as a fitness to practice committee member of the General Pharmaceutical Council of Great Britain and the General Teaching Council for England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was awards an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List in 2019 for Services to Muslim Community Development.
Adrienne Loftus Parkins is a consultant working with literature festivals and awards. She is the founder and former director of the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, now the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. She is on the Steering Committee of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and advises M Fest in London, Bangkok Edge in Thailand and other UK based festivals.
Cathy Bolton is a Co-director of Manchester Literature Festival and has been involved in the Festival since its inception in 2006. She previously worked as a Writing Development Officer for Commonword community writing and publishing project. Her poems and short stories have been published in a wide range of literary journals and anthologies, and her collection 'A Fool’s Height Short of Heaven' won the Sheffield Hallam Ictus Prize.
Jonathan Davidson has worked in arts administration for over thirty years. He is Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands and lives in Birmingham.
MP for Gorton and Shadow Minister for Immigration
The Manchester College
British Muslim Heritage Centre
Executive Director of Foundation For Ethnic Understanding
Manchester Central Library
Manchester Evening News
Whitworth Art Gallery
Director of Manchester Museum
Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police
Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police
Ahmed Ullah Race Relations Centre
BBC Manchester Radio
Media department, University of Salford
Chair of British Muslim Heritage Centre
Head of Equality and Diversity, University of Manchester
Whalley Range High School and Levenshulme High School
Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester
Vice- President of Social Responsibility- University of Manchester
Elizabeth Gaskell House