Cllr Deepak Bajaj is elected Lord Mayor of Leicester for 2021-2022 and has also been a local councillor for the Evington Ward since 2007. In our latest episode of Let’s Talk More, we sat down with him to discuss being inspired to help others and taking up the role of Lord Mayor of Leicester during the pandemic.
Due to pandemic restrictions, Cllr Deepak Bajaj was handed the chains of office from outgoing Lord Mayor Cllr Annette Byrne at the city council’s first virtual mayor-making ceremony. Deepak admits that the ceremony wasn’t how he’d envisioned it to be but does say there was a silver lining to it being virtual: “Unfortunately it was a virtual event that took place at the town hall but a lot of my family from across the world, whether it be in Canada, America, India or Australia, they were all able to join me,” he explains, adding: “On a positive note, that was a good thing even if it wasn’t how I visualised it happening.”
The pandemic meant that Deepak was unable to carry out a lot of his duties in the typical way to a Lord Mayor, however, during this time he was able to support the community in ways that he could. Detailing the work he was able to do, he explains: “We tried to get out and about where we could and help out the communities. We opened a food bank and delivered to a lot of families, vulnerable people and children. For people who couldn’t come out, we delivered to them personally or through taxi services.”
The Lord Mayor was born in Delhi and moved to Leicester with his family when he was three years old. He grew up in Belgrave and says that it was living in a diverse area that meant that he began helping the local community as a child. “Well, growing up from the age of around 9, neighbours used to come over and just ask ‘Oh could you help me fill out this form?’ and I used to do that. My mum would always bring around people who were new arrivals to the country, people with language barriers and they’d say ‘Would you ask your son if he would fill out this form for us?’” Deepak says it was these experiences and his mum’s advice that inspired him to help people: “Mum always said ‘everybody goes out there to make money which is obviously needed in this world. But go out there and try to help somebody. If you help one person today, try to help two people tomorrow.”
Deepak says taking on this role for a city that he loves is a great privilege and he also has some parting words of wisdom: “Always take the opportunity. Never say no. And go out there and help the community, because it’s a very small world and if you consider your community as your family, you can help them”.
By Gita Sarasia