The Lord Mayor of Leeds has been announced as guest of honour at the Unity Homes and Enterprise Annual General Meeting which will celebrate the BME-led housing association’s prominent role in growing local communities.
Earlier this year, Cllr Eileen Taylor – the city’s first black Lord Mayor – laid the foundation stone at a combined Unity and Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo) £9.3 million housing development which will provide more than 60 new homes for people in north-east Leeds.
She will top an impressive line-up of speakers at the event on Tuesday 24 September which includes Bill Phelps, Chair of ChaCo, and Dr Shamim Miah, Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, who has published two critically-acclaimed books on Muslims in modern society.
There will also be contributions from Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava and Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor.
Mr Akbor said he was looking forward to the gathering which will be held at The Sheepscar complex in Chapeltown.
He commented: “To mark the centenary of Armistice Day, last year’s AGM paid tribute to the bravery of black and minority ethnic Commonwealth soldiers in the First World War.
“For 2019, we have themed our annual report on growing sustainable communities and, over the last 12 months, I am proud of the role Unity has played in this mission.”
The association is halfway through the most ambitious development programme in its 32-year history which will result in the construction of 220 new affordable homes by 2021.
In partnership with Homes England, 23 completions took place during 2018/19 with building work on a further 90 properties in Leeds and Kirklees currently underway
Unity is also involved in a wide array of other activities to help local neighbourhoods achieve their social and economic potential.
Over the last year, Unity Enterprise – the association’s not-for-profit subsidiary company which provides 142 affordable business units across three centres – generated a financial surplus which was used to further improve facilities and offer more direct support for tenants including through business breakfasts and professional advice on banking, marketing and HR.
Unity Employment Services – delivered by three members of staff including an apprentice – helped 119 people to find jobs, 179 to improve their skills through training and 24 to enter voluntary work.
Mt Akbor said: “In addition to our efforts to improve lives in local communities, Unity has had its governance and financial viability ratings upgraded to the highest possible levels by the Regulator of Social Housing.
“We have also achieved a two-star Customer Excellence Award and had our Investors in People accreditation renewed.
“We can do nothing without our first-class staff and I am proud of every one of them.”