When Anwaar Ayub Raja signed up to be part of the Census 2021 team to help his community in Birmingham, he didn't realise that it was a trait that ran in his family tree. 

Former broadcaster and linguist Anwaar explains why he got involved and the surprising family secret he unearthed during this year's campaign: 

"I've had an eclectic career that has ranged from being a broadcaster on some of the major Asian radio stations in the UK to interpreting in courtrooms - but working on the census has been particularly meaningful to me. 

It was over 10 years ago that I first got involved with the census, when as a broadcaster, I was asked to record an advert for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). At the time, I wasn't aware of ONS and for me this was just another project.  

Sometime before Census Day on 27 March 2011, I heard my voice on several Asian radio and TV stations asking, 'What will you get out of the census? The Census 2011 is a national campaign ...." 

That project ended, people living in the UK took an active part in it and Census 2011 became part of my media portfolio. I was completely unaware of why governments were so interested in statistics at the time and never imagined that this small media project would one day become my occupation. 

Fast forward almost a decade and a few days before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, I was looking for a change in my life so I applied for a job in the UK Civil Service and to my surprise my employer was the same organisation whose message reached many homes in my voice ten years ago - ONS. Was it just a coincidence?  

I got the job and came to understand the importance of statistics and how they play an important role in the economy and social life of a country, along with helping to plan for future public services that everyone relies on. 

Online training programs, mentoring and various personal development programmes became part of my daily life at ONS. One day, during a conference, while I was talking about the importance of languages, someone from the media team approached me and advised me to apply for a Census 2021 Community Adviser job covering my home city of Birmingham. I immediately applied and after a painstaking, sifting process I was selected to work with the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities. Was this another coincidence? 

Census 2021 was the first online census and my role was to be a communicator and engage with the public so they could understand the reasons behind this important survey in benefiting their local community and how to get involved. 

Although I was working from home, there was teamwork that we all did to make this Census possible. Every member of the Census 2021 team played their role equally and positively. For me Census become a very personal matter when one day an amazing event happened and I felt that it was not a just a coincidence that I was doing this, but maybe it was meant to be. 

There are some certificates and medals of my forefathers hanging on the wall of my house and one day my six-year-old son came running to me to ask if I work for the Census. I answered 'yes' and he then asked me if I have been doing this job since 1941?  

That baffled me so I asked him how he came up with year 1941. He pointed to a frame on the wall containing a certificate  with the words “ Under the orders of His Highness Government, this certificate is conferred on VILAYAT KHAN SAFIADPOSH in recognition of the good work done by him as an enumerator in the Mirpur district during the Census operations 1941”.  

The certificate was signed and dated in Srinagar on August 1st, 1941. Raja VILAYAT KHAN was my great-grandfather and SAFAIDPOSH was his title. My great-grandfather was an important figure as a philanthropist and local reformer in Kashmir and even today there are many institutions in the local area which stand thanks to his donations. 

By doing a bit of digging I discovered that my great-grandfather was a representative of the Maharaja of Kashmir in our area and was awarded this certificate of appreciation from him for his outstanding role in the census.  

I wondered for a long time if all this was just a coincidence or whether what I was doing, similarly to my predecessors, was working for the betterment of society. Maybe it was something I was supposed to do and that’s why I was here.  

Whatever the reason, the census was not just a job for me, it was an exercise in carrying on a family tradition. It made me realise that everyone is not just a statistic,but we are part of the social history of society and 2021 census was an amazing experience because it was about all of us. 

To everyone that took part in Census 2021 across Birmingham, thank you from the Birmingham team. Completing your survey will make a huge difference to local communities. To find out more or complete your form before May 17, visit www.census.gov.uk.