Sheikh Family Scholar, Shayma, wins at the Press Awards!

Congratulations to Sheikh Family Scholar, Shayma Bhakt, on winning Young Journalist of the Year at the national Press Awards 2023!

We are delighted to see Shayma awarded with such great recognition for her achievements.   The COSARAF Foundation supported Shayma during her Masters at City University in Broadcast Journalism.  She also interned at The Sun as part of her scholarship.  In the future, she had aspirations to become a foreign correspondent. She believed it is important for the news to become more diverse, and she encouraged more women from South Asian and Muslim backgrounds to be brave enough to become the change they want to see.

Now she has more than achieved this, with her Young Journalist of the Year Award, working at the prestigious Times.

In her own words:

‘Having only graduated from a Masters last year, I am still processing the incredible opportunities that I have been given reporting at The Times: I have been able to pursue important undercover work, investigations in the Middle East, and original stories that tap into my own marginalized communities. My undercover investigation on the Homes for Ukraine scheme had an unbelievable impact on the public scrutiny of the government’s handling of Ukrainian refugees. From going viral on Twitter; to the UNHCR issuing a warning to the UK to tighten its safeguarding measures – citing our report the next day; to being used as evidence by an advocacy group building a legal case for Ukrainian refugees. It was the first to go undercover and conclude that predators were manipulating the informal matching pages that the government refused to shut down. The piece was co-authored by the talented Billy Kenber, who guided me through The Times’ rigorous subterfuge proposal process, as I was a new addition to the news desk. Nonetheless, the idea, undercover work, interviews and writing were led by myself.

My first foreign report was published as a page-lead for the anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul. It took months of investigating, navigating different time-zones and building trust with people in real danger. No British media outlet has been able to speak to the number of families I was on the topic of buying and selling children – which is outlawed and incredibly taboo. Save the Children and UNICEF both said they struggled to get case studies that were willing to speak openly about it. I was able to get exclusive lines from my contacts: that maternity staff are allegedly facilitating the sale of babies in government hospitals etc. I uncovered that Love Island stars, reality TV personalities, and influencers were being paid by third-party accounts to promote their accounts and everyone that those third-party accounts followed, which included illegal bulldog breeders, gambling sites, unregulated plastic surgeons etc. The Sun and other broadcasters followed up our story after we broke it.

Another piece of work investigates the unregulated black market of sperm donations in Scotland, which was overlooked because of its location. I gained the trust of traumatised women who spoke about being pressurised into having sex with men who initially promised they would donate through non-physical methods. I try to investigate original stories about vulnerable communities, and though I did not include them, I have written extensively about the working-class Muslims, Pakistanis, and other POC in Britain – the communities that I come from.’

The Press Awards and Regional Press Awards took place on Wednesday 8th March at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.

The Awards offer an opportunity to gain recognition for excellence across 46 categories – including new categories that honour young journalists, digital-first initiatives and excellence in reporting of diversity issues.

“These awards are the ones everyone working in news media today wants to win. They have a long and proud history, celebrating true excellence in the world of journalism, across print and digital platforms. 

At a time when access to trusted journalism has perhaps never been more important, The Press Awards bring our industry together to champion the importance of journalism to society and celebrate truly outstanding talent.”

Owen Meredith, Chief Executive Office – News Media Association

Other News

Card image cap

Donation to support vital Hertfordshire helpline

The COSARAF Foundation has awarded £3,500 to pay towards the full call handling service to support the ongoing services of the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline.

Card image cap

Supporting STEM careers for gifted girls

We have been supporting the African Gifted Foundation for a number of years now, annually sponsoring a female student , to complete their accelerated studies in further education to access university for careers in STEM.

Card image cap

New micro-finance project in Pakistan

The COSARAF Foundation are excited to be partnering with the GEAR Trust to deliver a new project in micro-finance supporting the poor and needy into self-employment in Pakistan.

Apply for Funding
Apply Now

Take me back to

What We Do

Take me back to

Contact Us