Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2022

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Rosena Allin-Khan


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GROWING UP in south London, life was tough for a young Dr Rosena Allin-Khan.

Born and brought up in Tooting in a working-class household, Allin-Khan recalled there only being one heater in the house, which they had to move from room to room to keep themselves warm. Her single mother worked three jobs to keep the family financially afloat.

She aspired to work in medicine – but was told “it wasn’t for girls like (her)”, as it was financially prohibitive, and she didn’t come from the “right background”.

Allin-Khan, who failed her A-levels due to difficult circumstances at home, knew she had to keep fighting if she wanted to pursue her dream career. “I think my upbringing led me to believe I had no choice but to sink or swim,” she tells GG2’s Power List.

Today, Allin-Khan is the Labour representative for her beloved Tooting, as well as a qualified doctor. She stood as a candidate for the 2020 Labour Party deputy leadership election earlier this year, ultimately, coming second to Angela Rayner, and was appointed the shadow minister for mental health the same year.

Although she credits her own resilience for her success, Allin-Khan believes the Labour government gave her an opportunity to fulfil her potential when life looked bleak. “The Labour government turned my life around,” she claims. “I redid my A-Levels, did a degree and went to Cambridge to study medicine, and I’m afraid those possibilities aren’t going to be there for a new generation of kids under this Tory government.”

Her career in medicine has, no doubt, upped her popularity with voters too.

Although she has admitted it can be hard to juggle her time between Westminster and Tooting’s St George’s Hospital, her medical roots are never far from her thoughts.

As the 2020 coronavirus pandemic

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