Minister welcomes Leeds Digital Job Fair as final call goes out to register for free

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, has praised the Leeds tech scene as preparations for the Leeds Digital Job Fair are finalised.

Margot James MP

Margot James MP

Supported by Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID), Leeds City Council and Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 takes place next Wednesday (28 February) from 3.30-7.30pm at the First Direct Arena.  

The iconic auditorium will host 50 exhibitors including Sky Betting and Gaming, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, NHS Digital, cap hpi, DWP Digital, Equifax and Sky.

Job seekers, students, graduates and tech professionals wishing to attend the event can still book their place free of charge by visiting www.herd.careers   

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, help every firm to benefit from innovative technologies and give people the skills they need to succeed in the sector.

"Leeds is a hotbed of tech talent and leading digital businesses, and this fair highlights the great opportunities on offer across the city."

Amy De-Balsi, owner of online jobs board Herd who founded Leeds Digital Job Fair in 2016, said: “I am delighted by the supportive words from Margot James and wish her well in her new role.

Herd owner and Leeds Digital Job Fair founder Amy De-Balsi

Herd owner and Leeds Digital Job Fair founder Amy De-Balsi

“There are currently more than 800 digital and tech vacancies ready to be filled in Leeds with more than half of these on offer at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0.

“The number of jobs available highlights the welcome reality that you do not have to live in London to progress your career in digital and tech and it is refreshing to hear that point underlined by the minister.     

“I urge job seekers and tech professionals considering a change to sign-up for free to attend the event.  Many hundreds have already done so, and we are expecting a massive turnout at what will undoubtedly be the biggest and best Leeds Digital Job Fair yet.”  

Unity Business Centre to become new hub for aspiring Leeds entrepreneurs

Leeds-based Unity Enterprise has formed a partnership with long-established tenant iota Business to launch an incubator scheme to propel some of the city’s aspiring entrepreneurs to commercial success. 

Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor (left), iota Business founder Cristine Wilson and Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green at Unity Business Centre in Leeds

Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor (left), iota Business founder Cristine Wilson and Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green at Unity Business Centre in Leeds

Office space and meetings rooms will be provided at Unity Business Centre in Chapeltown, together with access to mentors and specialist support services including marketing.

The initiative will be chiefly targeted at new start-ups and home-based businesses seeking to expand. 

Unity Enterprise, a subsidiary of Unity Homes and Enterprise, currently provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 businesses, social enterprises and third sector bodies on three sites close to Leeds city centre.

Unity’s partner for the new scheme, iota Business, has accumulated almost three decades of service to small and medium-sized businesses in accounts, payroll and business support. 

Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green said: “We are bursting with anticipation at the prospect of what the incubator can achieve and the positive impact it will have on the local economy including the creation of new jobs.

“Over recent months, Unity Enterprise has hosted a series of well-attended business breakfasts which have underlined that the entrepreneurial spirit is vibrant amongst our diverse blend of tenants.  But it is not the Unity way to settle for what we have, there is always more to do on behalf of the communities we proudly serve.

“Backed by the in-house experience of iota Business and the expertise of other professionals working with us, we believe that the model we have put together has the potential to transform start-ups and very small enterprises into high-growth companies with stable financial futures.” 

iota Business founder Cristine Wilson said: “We have helped many businesses grow from a small idea to fully fledged companies, employing others. We help them grow in a sustainable way

“One of the biggest struggles they tell us about is that first step from the kitchen table at home to rented office space.  We wanted to plug that gap, with realistic prices.”

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive, said: “Unity Enterprise has come a long way since its creation almost 20 years ago. 

“Over that period, it has acquired further workspace, refurbished built assets, hosted a multitude of impactful organisations and initiated a wide range of business and employment support programmes.

“Following a recent £1.4 million refurbishment programme, our three facilities – Unity Business Centre, Chapeltown Enterprise Centre and Leeds Media Centre – are now operating at close to full capacity.

“The launch of the business incubator scheme will enable us to inject new ideas and even greater vigour into what we do and how we do it. 

“We look forward to hearing from interested parties and getting the initiative fully underway.”       

Businesses seeking more information about the incubator scheme or other services provided by Unity Enterprise can contact Adrian Green on Tel: 0113 242 5996 or email: adrian.green@unityha.co.uk 

iota Business founder Cristine Wilson (right) discusses the new incubator with Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green (left) and Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor

iota Business founder Cristine Wilson (right) discusses the new incubator with Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green (left) and Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor

Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 set to play pivotal role in filling ever-growing number of local tech vacancies

New research which found that there are now 1.4 vacancies for every employee working in the North’s digital and tech sector underlines the importance for the regional economy of this month’s Leeds Digital Job Fair, the event’s founder Amy De-Balsi has said.

The Northern Digital Jobs Strategy Report, published in January by Tech North and EY, revealed that an average of almost 240,00 digital and tech jobs are being advertised in the North each year where there are only around 170,00 suitably skilled workers to fill them.  

Alongside the abundance of high quality vacancies on offer, the research also found that digital and tech jobs typically pay 48% more than the median average salary and deliver a higher level of productivity to the economy.

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi with the Jet2.com and Jetholidays team at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0    

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi with the Jet2.com and Jetholidays team at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0    

Ms De-Balsi, owner of online jobs board Herd, said that Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 has the potential to deliver strong candidates for the many ready-to-fill vacancies in the city.

She commented: “The Herd job board has more than 1000 digital and tech jobs available in Leeds right now, and that number is growing day by day.

“The Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 which will again be held in the main auditorium of the First Direct Arena, also run by Herd, will have 50 exhibitors with over 500 vacancies all available on the day.  Many of these opportunities will be apprenticeships, enabling people with a keen interest in the digital sector to learn on the job and forge an exciting new career.

“Alongside a parade of well-known employers including Sky Betting and Gaming, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, NHS Digital, cap hpi, DWP Digital, Equifax and Sky, we have scheduled a programme of high level talks from tech industry leaders.  There will also be expert advice available from our partners Fruition IT on how to access the best jobs. 

“The research from Tech North and EY found that 58% of digital companies in the North say that finding ‘talent’ is a key business challenge.  Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 will help them to address this.”

Adam Hildreth, Crisp CEO and founder

Adam Hildreth, Crisp CEO and founder

Crisp, the Leeds-based company regarded as the global authority on social media risk, will be returning as an exhibitor to the First Direct Arena having made its Leeds Digital Job Fair debut in April 2017. 

Its founder and CEO is Adam Hildreth, a serial entrepreneur who recently gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s ongoing inquiry into fake news. 

He said: “At Crisp, our mission is to protect brands, social platforms, advertisers and kids from the bad actors that exploit, extort, distress, offend and misinform online.

“We work with some of the largest companies and brands in the world and employ people who excel in their field - whether they’re AI specialists or client service experts.

“Our HQ in Leeds is now a global hub for AI excellence and we’re growing fast, so we’re looking forward to meeting more like-minded people at Leeds Digital Jobs Fair 4.0 who want to join us and make a difference.”

Mike Buck, BJSS Head of Delivery Leeds

Mike Buck, BJSS Head of Delivery Leeds

Another high-profile returnee is award-winning IT consultancy BJSS which operates offices and project centres across the UK and the United States.

Mike Buck, BJSS Head of Delivery Leeds, commented: “We’re thrilled to be once again supporting the Leeds Digital Job Fair. As Yorkshire’s biggest tech event, it provides us with an important opportunity to engage with the talented technologists and graduates that are helping Leeds to shape Britain’s digital future.

“This year, many of our senior people will be attending the Leeds Digital Job Fair, allowing candidates a unique opportunity to hear about career options at BJSS, understand the innovative tools and techniques that we use, and learn about the exciting projects that we deliver.”

Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 will take place on Wednesday 28 February from 3.30-7.30pm, supported by Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID), Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena. 

Job seekers, students, graduates and tech professionals wishing to attend the event can book their place free of charge by visiting www.herd.careers  

Government told to act as transport funding gap continues to widen

A fierce - and frankly understandable - row has ignited today after research revealed a vast North-South disparity in transport funding.

Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling

A report published by think tank IPPR North said that from the current financial year onwards Londoners will receive £4,155 per person in transport investment compared to just £844 per person for Yorkshire residents - the lowest level in the UK.

The average of the three Northern regions combined - including the North East and North West - is £1,600 or more than two-and-a-half times less per head of population than people living in the capital.   

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

The disclosure comes just days after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told a Commons Select Committee: "I don't expect to electrify whole of Trans-Pennine route."

And in the week when the Foreign Secretary claimed it would be a good use of public money to build a 22-mile long Boris Bridge to France as "it's crazy that two of the biggest economies in the world are connected by one railway line when they are only 20 miles apart." (Albeit a railway line which is much more reliable, rapid, efficient and with hugely greater capacity than the offering Leeds-Manchester travellers are forced to endure).    

The IPPR North report comments: “For the majority of road and rail users, there should be significant concern that...London will continue to receive the lion’s share of tax-payers’ money spent on transport and that these disparities will widen further as the Greater London Authority gets to keep business rate revenues which have historically been pooled, in part, to rebalance the economy.

“Unless and until central government makes significant new investments in transport priorities outside the capital and affords bodies like Transport for the North the same powers as those exercised by Transport for London, it will be impossible to repaint a different picture and we will continue to live in a nation which is dangerously unbalanced.”

The think tank's senior research fellow Luke Raikes added: “Despite the Transport Secretary’s recent statements, London is still set to receive almost three times more transport investment per person than the North. This is indefensible.

“The North has been underfunded in comparison to London for decades, and our figures demonstrate that ministers have failed to redress this imbalance.

“This failure will continue to hold back the North and the country until the Government acts.”

And so say all of us (Northerners). 

More big-name employers sign-up for Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 as new recruitment partnership is formed

EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator, and the Royal Air Force will make their Leeds Digital Job Fair debuts at the First Direct Arena on Wednesday 28 February.

Big crowds at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0

Big crowds at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0

They will join a host of returning major employers including Sky Betting and Gaming, Hitachi Capital, Sky and NHS Digital to showcase hundreds of tech vacancies at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0.   

And in another exciting first for the event, organisers Herd have formed an innovative new partnership with Leeds-based recruiter Fruition IT to ensure attendees receive the best possible advice on how to access the region’s ever-growing choice of digital career opportunities.

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi, founder of online jobs board Herd, said: “The quality of exhibitors already signed-up is higher than ever before and having both EE and the RAF on board provides another huge boost.

“It will also be terrific to have Fruition IT partnering with us in a coordinated drive to fill the many digital and tech vacancies that Leeds proudly boasts.       

“They are an independent, service-driven recruitment agency that sources candidates for roles across the IT sector.

“Fruition IT staff will be present to talk to attendees about the attractive vacancies they have on offer from an impressive suite of clients.

“Their expertise compliments Herd’s insights and experiences as a successful online jobs board, adding another exciting dimension to Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0.” 

Fruition IT managing director Sarah Pawson

Fruition IT managing director Sarah Pawson

Sarah Pawson, managing director of Fruition IT, said: “As we enter our tenth year operating in the Yorkshire IT recruitment market, we are delighted to forge a strong partnership with Herd and the Leeds Digital Job Fair.

“We have always strived to go beyond simply placing candidates in jobs and take an active role in understanding the changing technology careers available and the skills required in these roles.

“Through our annual Yorkshire tech market report and hosting many local tech meetups, we aim to ensure we’re always at the forefront of our clients and candidates needs in the IT and digital job market. 

“The Leeds Digital Job fair will be a great opportunity for us to share our knowledge of the careers available and support attendees around the skills employers are looking for, as well as how companies can attract the best talent and remain competitive in a buoyant market.”

Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 will run from 3.30-7.30pm on Wednesday 28 February and is supported by Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID), Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena. 

A selection of exhibition packages are still available, ranging from gold stands for large employers through to a scaled-down offer for start-up firms.  

Companies interested in taking a space can request further information by emailing amy@herd.careers

Individuals wishing to attend the event can book their place free of charge by visiting www.herd.careers  

Cautious welcome for new Housing Minister from Unity chief executive

Ali Akbor, the chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise, has written to newly appointed Housing Minister Dominic Raab to welcome him to the role and invite him to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor by visiting affordable housing schemes in the city.

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise

However, Mr Akbor has called on Theresa May to allow Mr Raab to stay in the role for a sustained period – unlike many Housing Ministers before him.

The Unity chief executive, who also serves as secretary/treasurer of BME National, a collective of BME housing associations in England, said:

“I am well aware of Mr Raab’s abilities and am confident that he will absorb his brief very quickly and be competent in the role.

“But the fact remains that he is now the seventh person to be given the job since the current Government was elected in 2010.

“Alok Sharma kindly accepted my invitation to visit a number of Unity affordable housing schemes last year and was gaining a well-deserved reputation for listening to the sector.

“With the Housing Green Paper due to be published in the coming months, I hope the momentum and goodwill that Mr Sharma had achieved will not be lost as a result of yet another change of minister.

“I trust that Theresa May will now allow Mr Raab to stay in post for a sustained period and enable him to make progress in addressing the housing crisis that is rightly raising deep concerns across the country.

“The change in the Department’s name to become the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is a positive step which I hope does indeed reflect the Government’s sharper focus on delivering more homes.   

“In addition to writing to Alok Sharma to thank him for his work, I have written to Dominic Raab to invite him to follow his predecessor’s example by coming to Leeds to see the excellent work that Unity is doing to provide high quality homes for those who need them most. I hope for a positive response.”

Unity chief executive challenges Government ministers to deliver more affordable housing

The Government must keep its commitment to provide more affordable homes for people in greatest need, the chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has said.

In his New Year message, Ali Akbor also argued that BME-led associations such as Unity are “uniquely-placed” to regenerate many of the communities worst affected by the national housing crisis and help ministers to achieve their policy objectives.

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Mr Abkor said: “I have been encouraged by much of what senior Government ministers have said in recent months about the importance of building more affordable homes. 

“The Prime Minister declared at the Conservative Party Conference that it was her personal mission to solve the housing problem.

“Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, rightly emphasised that a home is so much more than just a place to sleep at night and that it can shape people’s life chances.

“And Housing Minister Alok Sharma, on a visit to Leeds, praised Unity for delivering high quality affordable homes and confirmed that housing was a key priority for the Government.  

“These are encouraging words and I strongly believe that BME-led housing associations including Unity are uniquely placed to enable the Government to fulfil its policy commitments.”

Mr Akbor highlighted that it was now three decades since a clutch of new associations like Unity were set up to address the housing needs of black and minority ethnic communities. 

And he said that the Government’s recently published Race Disparity Audit, which examined how people of different ethnic backgrounds living in the UK are treated across a range of areas, showed that many challenges remain.

He said: “The Audit found that Asian and black households as well as those in the ‘other’ ethnic group were more likely to be poor and living in persistent poverty.    

“The minority ethnic population was also more likely to reside in areas of deprivation, especially black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people.

“And whilst two out of three white British householders were found to own their homes, just two out of five householders from all other ethnic groups enjoyed that status. 

“Such glaring inequality often leads to further consequential disadvantages for black, Asian and minority ethnic groups including lower quality education, fewer employment opportunities and reduced life expectancy. That is why the role played by BME housing associations continues to be so necessary.” 

The Unity chief executive added: “As we look ahead to 2018, BME-led associations relish the chance to work closely with the Government and its newly-rebranded agency Homes England to significantly increase the affordable housing stock. 

“I expect that Unity and associations with similar histories will be around for many years to come.”

How dare EU

A crushing blow for Leeds today with news that the city's bid to be named 2023 European Capital of Culture has been scuppered by Brexit.

Leeds_City_of_Culture.png

Leeds spent more than three years and hundreds of thousands of pounds of local taxpayers' money putting together an impressive bid which was formally submitted just a few weeks ago, alongside four other British entries. 

But earlier today, a European Commission spokesperson said that it "would not be possible" for the UK to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023 "given that the UK will have left the EU by 29 March 2019."  She added: "We believe it makes common sense to discontinue the selection process now."

Responding on behalf of the British Government, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “We disagree with the European Commission’s stance and are deeply disappointed that it has waited until after UK cities have submitted their final bids before communicating this new position to us."

Quite.

Whatever your views on Brexit, the European Commission's seems both calculated and cruel. 

A lot of good people, in Leeds and elsewhere, put an immense amount of hard work in to show their cities in the best possible light.  Their efforts also helped to bring diverse communities together for common good. 

Those involved deserved so much better than this. 

Unity chief executive backs Chancellor’s announcement on expanded HCA

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise, has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s confirmation that the role of the Homes and Communities Agency will widen to become Homes England with a remit to drive sustained investment in new housing.

Ali Akbor

Ali Akbor

Responding to a range of housing announcements delivered by Philip Hammond in today’s Budget, Mr Akbor said:

“There was a clear but necessary acknowledgement from the Chancellor that the housing crisis must be tackled with much greater vigour than in recent times, which is a positive step.

“The expansion of the role and powers of the HCA, already one of our primary partners, is a welcome move and confirms what has been rumoured in the housing sector for some time.

“£44 billion in Government support for housebuilding is a step forward, yet someway short of the £50 billion that Communities Secretary Sajid Javid recently said was required.

“The target of building 300,000 homes a year should be commended but would be much more impressive if the timeline was considerably shorter than the mid-2020s given the pressing need for new housing that the Chancellor himself has conceded.

“More details of the Government’s measures will inevitably emerge in the days and weeks ahead and be subject to proper scrutiny.

“But as one of England’s foremost BME-led housing associations with three decades of proven experience in building homes for people who really need them, we look forward to be fully involved in delivering for the communities we serve.”  

Changes for the better as countdown to Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 begins

Leeds Digital Job Fair will return to the First Direct Arena on Wednesday 28 February 2018 and the fourth edition will be more vibrant and accessible than ever.

Now firmly established as the North’s leading recruitment fair for developers, analysts, digital marketers, designers and data scientists, Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 will occupy a new later time slot to enable tech professionals to attend after work alongside other job seekers, graduates and people in full-time education.

It will also become an annual event to guarantee the best possible line-up of exhibitors, having previously been held twice each year. 

Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 will again be directed by its founder Amy De-Balsi, owner of online digital and tech jobs board Herd, with support from Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID), Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena. 

A choice of exhibition packages is now available, ranging from gold for major multi-national companies through to a new scaled-down offer for start-ups. 

Candidates can also register for free tickets to attend the event, speak to employers and seek a new role in digital and tech.

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi overseeing a wonderfully successful Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 at the First Direct Arena

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi overseeing a wonderfully successful Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 at the First Direct Arena

Amy De-Balsi said: “We’re particularly excited about Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 which is going to be on a different level to the first three events, which were massively successful.  We have 50 exhibitor spaces available and these are already filling up fast.  More than 500 career opportunities were on offer at the last Fair in April and this number will certainly be eclipsed.   

“Having listened to exhibitors and attendees, Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 will run from 3.30pm - 7.30pm to make it easier for tech professionals and students with study commitments to make it along.  And we have decided to move to an annual cycle so employers can better plan ahead and enable more of their senior managers to meet with potential recruits. 

“The Leeds Digital Job Fair is already well-established as a pivotal recruitment tool for the region’s digital and tech sector.  28 February 2018 is a date that everyone is rightly looking forward to.”   

Andrew Cooper, LeedsBID chief executive, said: “Leeds is a city at the forefront of the skills agenda in the tech, creative and digital sectors and the growing success of the Leeds Digital Job Fair is reflective of that positioning.”

“LeedsBID’s continues to invest in this event and the promotion of the ongoing opportunities available, particularly to those not in Leeds as we drive collectively to attract new talent to our city, and the Leeds Digital Job Fair is ideal in achieving this aim.”

Cllr James Lewis, Leeds City Council Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Resources and Strategy, said: “Leeds City Council is delighted to support the Leeds Digital Job Fair.  Supporting the growth of our digital companies is a key part of our Inclusive Growth Strategy, and we want to see the opportunities available in this fast-growing sector opened up to as many people as possible.  Digital jobs are a big part of the future of Leeds and I want to dispel the myth that this is just about young people with university degrees. 

“There will be hundreds of opportunities available at the Digital Job Fair and I would encourage anyone with an interest in technology to go along see if there is something for them. Whether you are looking for your first step into digital and tech, or the next rung on your career, this is the place to find that job.”

Some of the many hundreds of vacancies on offer at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0

Some of the many hundreds of vacancies on offer at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0

Professor Chris Prince, Leeds Beckett University Pro Vice Chancellor - Business Engagement, said: “Leeds Beckett University is very pleased to continue to co-support the Leeds Digital Job Fair.  The Fair provides our students with a real opportunity to explore the exciting career opportunities that exist within this rapidly growing and important sector of our regional economy.”

Jennifer Mitchell, First Direct Arena General Manager, said: “We are pleased to be hosting the fourth Leeds Digital Job Fair at First Direct Arena. The event has grown from strength to strength over the last three years and it has been exciting seeing it evolve into one of the best careers events in the region.  

“Previous events have seen both businesses and jobseekers successfully networking under one roof in a dedicated forum. We anticipate that 2018’s event will be better than ever.”

Employers interested in exhibiting at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 can request further information by emailing amy@herd.careers

Individuals wanting to book their place at the event or find out about current vacancies available through Herd should visit www.herd.careers  

Unity tenants show enterprise to support Leeds Wellbeing Week

Two businesses based at Chapeltown Enterprise Centre have joined forces to offer a range of free sessions to promote healthy minds and bodies as part of Leeds Wellbeing Week.

Inspirations Central - a space for children and parents to make music, create works of art and enjoy the company of others – and multi-purpose fitness suite C’Town Studio are laying on a range of stimulating classes and get-togethers starting tomorrow (Tuesday) and running through until Friday.   

Ruth Douglas with (from left to right) Adrian Green (Unity Enterprise manager),  Ali Akbor (Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive) and Michael Kamara (C’Town Studio owner) at Inspirations Central

Ruth Douglas with (from left to right) Adrian Green (Unity Enterprise manager),  Ali Akbor (Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive) and Michael Kamara (C’Town Studio owner) at Inspirations Central

Focused primarily on stay-at-home parents, retirees or people not in full-time employment, sessions at Inspirations Central include ‘Creative Stay and Play’ for the under 5s, ‘Relax-Sing’ aimed at all ages and the intriguingly titled ‘Doodle for Your Noodle’ run by local artist Kelly Boyle.

Meanwhile, C’Town Studio will run special classes including meditation on Tuesday and yoga on Thursday with Pilates rounding off the week.

Underscoring the level of cooperation between both businesses, a ‘Creative Creche’ will be available at Inspirations Central during each C’Town Studio session to enable parents with children under 5 to attend. 

Chapeltown Enterprise Centre is one of three business hubs operated by Unity Enterprise, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unity Homes and Enterprise.

Ali Akbor, Unity chief executive, said he was impressed by the level of commitment shown by Inspirations Central and C’Town Studio.

He said: “Collaboration is a core element of any successful enterprise and I am delighted that these businesses are demonstrating real intuition in support of Leeds Wellbeing Week.

“Alongside Unity Business Centre and Leeds Media Centre, Chapeltown Enterprise Centre is continuing to enhance its reputation as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity.

“Inspirations Central and C’Town Studio are fine examples of the excellent work that is going on.  I wish their respective ventures well during Leeds Wellbeing Week and long into the future.”   

Inspirations Central was established earlier this year by Ruth Douglas as a relaxed, creative environment for mothers and fathers to take their kids.

It offers activities for all ages from parent and toddler groups, to private music lessons and holiday clubs.  The premises can also be hired for children’s parties and evening craft events for adults.

Ruth said: “Inspirations Central is all about positivity and Leeds Wellbeing Week is certainly a positive venture that we naturally want to support.

“I am excited by the varied mix of sessions timetabled for the week and particularly thrilled that Kelly Boyle will be with us on Thursday.  She will invite attendees to draw with her, either in an intuitive way or an approach that reflects their own persona. It’s one not to be missed.

“It is also a special pleasure to be teaming up again with C’Town Studio in a partnership that works well and benefits all of our customers.”     

C’Town Studio was established by Michael Kamara in 2016.  As well as offering a wide selection of classes and first class gym facilities, it is also home to Chapeltown Kickboxing Club and Mandela Runners.

Michael said: “Health and fitness are very important to us and we welcome the chance to showcase some of our most popular classes as part of Leeds Wellbeing Week. 

“Giving parents the opportunity for their children to experience Inspirations Central is a real bonus for them and us and will hopefully lead to very busy classes. 

“I would encourage people to come along, get fit and change their lives for the better.”

Further details of activities at Inspirations Central and C’Town Studio throughout Leeds Wellbeing Week are available at www.inspirations-central.co.uk   

Housing Minister Alok Sharma in Leeds to visit Unity affordable homes projects

The Minister of State for Housing and Planning has been in Leeds to see the work Unity Homes and Enterprise is doing to provide high quality affordable homes across the city.

Alok Sharma MP, who was appointed to the post by Prime Minister Theresa May in June, began today’s visit at Unity’s recently completed £1.8 million Holborn Court development in Little London.   

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma (fifth from left) is joined by resident Ian Bailey (third from right), Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (centre), Unity board members and other partners at the Holborn Court affordable homes development in Little London, Leeds

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma (fifth from left) is joined by resident Ian Bailey (third from right), Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (centre), Unity board members and other partners at the Holborn Court affordable homes development in Little London, Leeds

Delivered in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency and Leeds City Council, the scheme comprises 15 flats and two wheelchair accessible bungalows.

They replace a number of Council-owned bedsits which had become derelict.

Whilst there, the minister dropped in on local resident Ian Bailey who moved into his new flat after more than a decade of service as a soldier with the British Army. 

Holborn Court resident Ian Bailey (centre) welcomes Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma (right) and Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (left) into his new home at Holborn Court in Little London, Leeds.

Holborn Court resident Ian Bailey (centre) welcomes Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma (right) and Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (left) into his new home at Holborn Court in Little London, Leeds.

Mr Sharma then made the short journey across the city to Chapeltown to see an exciting new Unity project due for completion later this year.

It includes the refurbishment of a derelict property and a new-build extension to adjoining land in a conservation area.

The development at 146 Chapeltown Road, close to Unity’s headquarters, will create six flats whilst retaining the original façade as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund initiative. 

From right to left: Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma, Unity chief executive Ali Akbor and Unity regeneration director Wayne Noteman arrive at the soon-to-be-completed 146 Chapeltown Road affordable homes development in Leeds

From right to left: Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma, Unity chief executive Ali Akbor and Unity regeneration director Wayne Noteman arrive at the soon-to-be-completed 146 Chapeltown Road affordable homes development in Leeds

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said: “I am delighted to be in Leeds today to discuss with Unity Homes and Enterprise how they are delivering quality affordable homes in the area.

"Social housing is a key priority for the Government and that is why I am meeting with tenants across the country and we will bring forward a green paper which will address the issues facing social housing tenants.

"We have confirmed plans for a new generation of affordable homes through a further £2 billion funding boost bringing investment in affordable housing to over £9 billion up to 2021, and provided future rent certainty to the sector.

“Yesterday the Prime Minister also confirmed that we will not apply a local housing allowance cap to the social rented sector.”

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: “We were delighted when the minister kindly accepted our invitation to come to Leeds to see the excellent work Unity is doing, alongside our partners, to develop new affordable homes.

“At the core of our ethos is a belief that the revitalisation of communities is not just about providing first class housing, but also wider social and economic regeneration.

“Both of the projects Mr Sharma visited are located at the heart of communities very much on an upward curve.

“Unity is proud to play a leading role in improving lives of Leeds residents and offering a sense of real optimism for their shared futures.”     

Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: “Unity is driven by a sense of social purpose. We also have a proud and deep affinity with the communities we serve.

“Mr Sharma is the first Housing Minister to have taken up the offer to visit Unity projects and we are grateful to him for coming.

“We hope he will return to Whitehall with an appreciation of Unity’s efforts to help local people and provide them with high quality affordable housing in regenerated neighbourhoods.   

“We look forward to working closely with the Government and other partners to deliver many more homes and further improve other communities in the years ahead.” 

From left to right: Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma, Unity chair Shruti Bhargava, Unity chief executive Ali Akbor and Unity regeneration director Wayne Noteman during today’s visit to the Chapeltown Road affordable homes development in Leeds

From left to right: Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma, Unity chair Shruti Bhargava, Unity chief executive Ali Akbor and Unity regeneration director Wayne Noteman during today’s visit to the Chapeltown Road affordable homes development in Leeds

National awards recognition for cricket-loving Unity board member

Popular Unity Homes and Enterprise board member Abdul Ravat has added to his lengthy list of achievements after being named runner-up in the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) ‘Heartbeat of the Club’ category at a prestigious awards ceremony held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the spiritual home of the game.

Abdul lifted the Yorkshire OSCA (Outstanding Services to Cricket Award) in the same category at Headingley Stadium this summer and was then shortlisted for the national award by the ECB.

Although narrowly missing out at Lord’s, Abdul was delighted that his nomination had provided a wonderful opportunity to highlight the good work being done with the community at his beloved Mount Cricket Club in Batley.  

Abdul Ravat (right) at Lord’s with England Test star Stuart Broad (centre) and Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (left)

Abdul Ravat (right) at Lord’s with England Test star Stuart Broad (centre) and Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (left)

The club was established in 1976 by two enthusiastic young cricketers Hanif Mayet – who remains its chairman - and the late Farid Karolia.  Since then, it has progressed through various Yorkshire leagues and won many friends and supporters along the way.

Last year, Mount Cricket Club played a special inter-faith T20 match at Headingley against St Peter’s XI of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican’s official cricket team made up of Rome-based priests and seminarians.  The game was preceded by Unity’s Annual General Meeting which was addressed by Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford and Mark Arthur, chief executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Abdul was joined at the London awards ceremony by Ali Akbor, chief executive of Leeds-based Unity Homes and Enterprise, who submitted his nomination.

Ali said: “It was a great privilege to visit the spiritual home of cricket and have the chance to meet some of the country’s best known cricketing names including fast bowler Stuart Broad, England one-day captain Eoin Morgan and Mike Gatting who is now Chairman of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee.

“But most importantly, it was a pleasure to celebrate Abdul’s achievement.  As well as providing high quality affordable homes and stimulating social and economic regeneration, Unity works hard to bring people together in the communities we serve. 

“Abdul’s commitment to promoting and delivering a more cohesive society is what makes him such a vital member of our board.  His boundless energy and ability to spread positivity though his ever-growing range of voluntary activities are a great credit to him.  His OSCA recognition is very well deserved.”

Mark Arthur, chief executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the outstanding community work of Mount Cricket Club’s Abdul Ravat in Batley, has been recognised nationally.  To win the award in Yorkshire was an achievement in itself as we have so many fantastic volunteers within our 780 cricket clubs.”

Yorkshire County Cricket Club chief executive Mark Arthur (left) presents Abdul Ravat with his Yorkshire OSCA

Yorkshire County Cricket Club chief executive Mark Arthur (left) presents Abdul Ravat with his Yorkshire OSCA

Hanif Mayet, chairman of Mount Cricket Club said: “Both Mount and Unity exist to serve their communities and have been doing this for 40 and 30 years respectively.  I never believed back in 1976, when the club began that the work of our volunteers would be recognised at the highest level in the game we all love.  Abdul has combined his passions for housing and cricket and the Light of Faith Tour enabled us all to celebrate the joy when communities, faiths and people come together.  All of us at the Club are deeply humbled."

Tracy Brabin, Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, said: “I am so happy for my friend Abdul and this award is so very welcome. Since becoming the MP for my home town a year ago, I've had the privilege of getting to know Abdul and Hanif and others at Mount Cricket Club and I've seen how dedicated Abdul is to ensuring cricket is truly a sport for all. The people of Batley and Spen are extremely lucky to have him as their sporting champion.”

Will Theresa May soon be handed her real P45?

If you haven't seen Theresa May's speech at Conservative Party Conference as yet, it's probably best to witness it from behind a sofa.  And it might prove to be an even more difficult listen.

It was a car crash, a nightmare, a total unmitigated disaster.  No matter what your politics are, on a human level, it was nigh on impossible not to feel intensely sorry for her.

Firstly she was ambushed by a prankster who handed her "a P45 from Boris."

May P45.jpg

Expect to see that picture a lot for as long as Mrs May remains in Number 10.

Then the Prime Minister's voice went.  Again and again and again - for the best part of 40 minutes.

It was embarrassing, excruciating and hellish to watch.   

And finally, the stage itself began to disintegrate as letters fell off the backdrop.

An F disappeared first, followed swiftly be an E.   

Shortly after the Prime Minister had left the stage, this was what remained. 

CPC set.jpg

One can only feel sympathy for her plight, through no fault of her own.

Will the run of unconnected mishaps affect her ability to hold on to her job?  In truth, it shouldn't. But image matters a lot in politics these days.

The public and media reaction in the coming hours and days will prove pivotal for Theresa May's future. 

At least she was big enough to laugh at poke fun at herself on Twitter immediately afterwards.

IMG_7504.PNG

 

 

Leeds housing association applauded by leading peer for ‘punching above its weight’

Former Housing Corporation chair Baroness Brenda Dean has warmly praised Unity Homes and Enterprise for “punching above its weight” as the Leeds-based housing association celebrated its 30th anniversary. 

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

Speaking at Unity’s Annual General Meeting, Baroness Dean said that in her professional experience, larger housing associations were able to “look after themselves.”  But she added: “The true enrichment in the sector came from the small and medium housing associations like Unity.  You did things that others either didn’t want to do or didn’t have the wherewithal or culture to do it.”

Baroness Dean – who also served as General Secretary of the SOGAT trade union during the Wapping dispute – said it was now important for BME-led housing associations such as Unity to assert themselves.  “Not in any negative way,” she said.  “You just need to demonstrate what you’ve done, what you’ve achieved and that you could achieve even more if you had more concrete support.” 

Praising Unity’s annual report, Baroness Dean said: “The report in itself is a manifestation – a very strong statement - of diversity, working together to build, and also having business and commercial appeal.  It shows your values about integrity, about respect and about flexibility.  Those together are very powerful. For me, they all come together and say that ‘this is an organisation that punches above its weight.’”

The Lord Mayor of Leeds

The Lord Mayor of Leeds

Councillor Jane Dowson, the Lord Mayor of Leeds and a Chapel Allerton ward member, reflected on Unity’s foundation in 1987 in Chapeltown where it still has its headquarters.  She said: “Whoever came up with the name Unity did one of the best things because this organisation is truly unifying in what it does across the city. It does work in some the most deprived areas of the city, but they are also some of the richest areas.  I don’t know if it’s because of a lack of money coming in, but you get people who give of themselves and want to make a difference.”

Arthur France MBE

Arthur France MBE

Arthur France, the founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, also spoke fondly about the association.  “We cannot be responsible for the past, but we will certainly be responsible for the future,” he said.  “The housing in Chapeltown was not very good.  Unity came in and addressed the imbalance. They provided beautiful accommodation for decent human beings, and not the type of houses that we used to have.”

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, outlined some of organisation’s greatest achievements. But he also struck a word of caution for policymakers as Unity prepares for the next three decades.  “We must recognise and acknowledge the tremendous progress made in terms of equality and diversity in this country over the last 30-50 years,” he said. “This was driven by progressive policy initiatives such as those that led to the creation of organisations such as Unity.” 

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Bur Mr Akbor added: “In recent years it does feel as if we are going backwards.  There is a policy vacuum when it comes to equality and diversity issues.  There is still stark disparity and disadvantages for BME communities when it comes to opportunities for jobs, education, health and housing. And we all know that there is a housing crisis that affects all communities.  I ask, does it really take the tragic event of the Grenfell Fire for us as a society to value social housing and help the people that need these homes?”

He said: “Unity’s evolution demonstrates how we can make a difference in creating multi-cultural communities and serve tenants from all ethnic backgrounds.  We will continue to do so for the next 30 years and more.” 

Unity chair Shruti Bhargava

Unity chair Shruti Bhargava

Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise, thanked everyone who had been “an integral part of Unity’s journey over the last 30 years, whether it’s as founders, shareholders, supporters, residents, staff, board members and, indeed, former chairs.”  She said: “In these challenging times – with increases in inequality, division and race hate in our society - we all know that our social purpose is more important than ever.  Our commitment to improving lives in areas with high BME populations, and turning them into vibrant multi-cultural neighbourhoods is what drives everything we do.”

Ms Bhargava added: “We know what a difference Unity makes in addressing inequality, bringing communities together and improving people’s lives.  We know how important it is that organisations like ours continue to thrive, have an impact albeit on a small scale, and show larger and more mainstream organisations how to do it.  BME organisations like ours have to lead the way, and provide the insight and expertise, if we are ever to address the wider challenges in our society.”

From left to right: Ali Akbor (Unity chief executive), Councillor Jane Dowson (Lord Mayor of Leeds), Baroness Dean (former Housing Corporation chair) and Shruti Bhargava (Unity chair)  

From left to right: Ali Akbor (Unity chief executive), Councillor Jane Dowson (Lord Mayor of Leeds), Baroness Dean (former Housing Corporation chair) and Shruti Bhargava (Unity chair)  

High profile line-up at AGM as Unity marks its 30th year

Baroness Dean

Baroness Dean

Former trade union leader Baroness Brenda Dean will head an impressive list of speakers when Leeds housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise holds its 30th anniversary Annual General Meeting next Tuesday (26 September) at The Sheepscar in Chapeltown.

She will be joined by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Jane Dowson, and Arthur France MBE, the founding member and chairperson of Leeds West Indian Carnival which celebrated its 50th year last month.

Following a word of welcome from Unity chair Shruti Bhargava, proceedings will open with a performance from RJC Dance which is based at the nearby Mandela Community Centre.

Attendees will also be given a copy of a specially-produced souvenir brochure entitled, “30 Years of Unity,” which charts the association’s journey of success since its establishment in 1987.

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said he was delighted at the speaker line-up which served as testament to the respect in which Unity is now held both locally and further afield.

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Mr Akbor said: “Unity was established because of an urgent requirement for an organisation to address the housing needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds. 

“Our founders deserve great credit for what they did, and I will reflect that in what I have to say at the AGM.

“We have come a long way since then.  Unity now owns more than 1,200 properties for tenants from all communities and all ethnic backgrounds.

“In addition, Unity Enterprise, our subsidiary company which operates on a not-for-profit basis, runs three business centres that deliver jobs for people who need them and provide a boost to the local economy. 

“And Unity Employment Services (UES) has been set-up to support tenants and their surrounding communities in accessing employment and training opportunities.  Last year UES helped 95 people to find jobs, 149 to improve their skills and 26 others to enter voluntary work

“But despite the excellent progress we have made, it is clear to me that the necessity for BME-led housing associations such as Unity is as great now as it was three decades ago. 

“I look forward to expanding on this issue at the AGM and hearing the thoughts of our prestigious guest speakers. 

“We have a lot to celebrate but also a lot to reflect on as we plan for Unity’s next 30 years.”  

ENTERPRISING BREAKFASTS DELIVER RESULTS FOR UNITY BUSINESSES

Leeds-based Unity Homes and Enterprise has taken the lead in helping its business tenants to grow by organising a series of breakfast seminars and workshops facilitated by industry experts.

Delivered in partnership with Path Yorkshire, a charity specialising in projects that tackle education, social and economic inequalities, two events have been held in recent weeks.

In June, online specialist Simon Reed from SJT Solutions led a well-attended session on the innovative use of social media and websites to attract new customers and increase sales.

And in another busy gathering earlier this month, freelance consultant Nick Wayne drew on his wide experiences to highlight the importance of marketing for business success.      

In early September, Theresa Thomas from Leeds City College will talk about the benefits of taking on apprentices and will also guide attendees through the details of the apprenticeship levy which the Government hopes will help to create three million new opportunities for young people by 2020. 

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise manager

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise manager

Adrian Green is manager of Unity Enterprise, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unity Homes and Enterprise, which provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 businesses, social enterprises and third sector bodies on three sites close to Leeds city centre.

He said: “Working with Path Yorkshire and colleagues in Unity Employment Services, our specialist unit which helps the communities we serve to access jobs and training, we launched a survey asking what could be done to help Unity’s business tenants to achieve greater commercial outcomes.

“We were delighted by the number and clarity of responses received.  The result is the quality of events we have arranged so far, each focused on a specific area of business support. And the programme has gathered a momentum of its own.

“In the autumn we have scheduled two breakfast workshops, one on people development and a second on business planning. Further sessions are also in the planning. 

“We are confident that these efforts will deliver real added value for our tenants.” 

Charlotte Raffo, owner and design director of The Monkey Puzzle Tree, has attended both seminars held so far and is delighted with the results.

Charlotte Raffo, owner and design director of The Monkey Puzzle Tree

Charlotte Raffo, owner and design director of The Monkey Puzzle Tree

She said: “In addition to the expert advice and tips I have picked up, the events have given me the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs. 

“After one conversation over bacon sandwiches, Michael Millward from Path Yorkshire published a blog post about my business.

“I also met Amrit Choda from the LEP growth service who put me in touch with the Ad:Venture scheme, and they are now looking into match funding a PR campaign for me.

“It has proven to be time very well spent and I am grateful to Unity for their foresight in putting the meetings together.”

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive, said: “The regeneration of sustainable communities is not just about providing high quality affordable homes, but also stimulating social and economic regeneration, improving life chances and addressing inequalities.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything Unity does, including our establishment of Unity Enterprise and Unity Employment Services.   

“We are greatly encouraged by the success of the first two business breakfasts and look forward to many more, all hosted in our first-class conference facilities at Unity Business Centre - which are also available for hire.”

Businesses or other organisations seeking more information about Unity Enterprise can contact Adrian Green on Tel: 0113 242 5996 or email: adrian.green@unityha.co.uk 

Unity celebrates 30 years of improving lives in Leeds

One of the country’s foremost BME-led housing associations has celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Unity Homes and Enterprise was established in 1987 with the objective of addressing the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds. 

The initial focus was on Chapeltown, where it still has its headquarters. Over the years, Unity’s work has widened to many other areas of the city. 

It now owns more than 1,200 properties for tenants from all communities and all ethnic backgrounds.

Chief executive Ali Akbor celebrating the organisation’s 30th anniversary with Unity staff

Chief executive Ali Akbor celebrating the organisation’s 30th anniversary with Unity staff

Unity’s sphere of activities has also expanded significantly over the last three decades.

In 2000 the association formed a subsidiary company, Unity Enterprise, to support local entrepreneurial activity.  Unity Business Centre – the largest of Unity’s three business centres, which also include Chapeltown Enterprise Centre and Leeds Media Centre – has become a hub of entrepreneurial activity with more than 80 different enterprises now resident including training organisations, recruitment consultants, fashion designers, printers and a café.  Leeds Media Centre is home to Made in Leeds TV. 

Unity Employment Services (UES) was set-up in 2011 to support Unity tenants and their surrounding communities in accessing employment and training opportunities. Last year 77 people were helped to find work, 120 received accredited skills training and 15 others entered work placements.  More than 600 people have been given direct assistance to improve their lives since UES was established,  

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, paid tribute to Unity staff and board members past and present.

He said: “Unity’s founders deserve immense credit for stepping forward to establish the organisation at a time when there were huge inequalities in housing.

“Thanks to their efforts, the vision of a succession of board members and the professionalism and dedication of our staff over the last 30 years, Unity is now rightly regarded as one of the country’s most successful and forward-thinking BME-led housing associations.

“We are strong in our belief that the revitalisation of communities is not just about providing high quality affordable homes, but also stimulating social and economic regeneration.

“I am particularly proud of the fact that we have expanded our work to help people into employment and support enterprise.

“Community housing associations such as Unity really do make a difference.  We hope to make that difference for many years to come.”

Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise

Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise

Shruti Bhargava has been chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise since 2015.

She said: “I am privileged to lead a talented and diverse board who, like me, have a deep appreciation for the hard-working and dedicated staff at Unity who collectively deliver such remarkable results. 

“We have a shared social purpose of improving the lives of residents in areas with large BME populations and transforming these communities into vibrant, multi-cultural neighbourhoods.

“The current social and political climate means that the role played by relatively small community organisations such as Unity in bringing communities together has never been more important. 

“Unity’s record of success is deeply impressive but we are constantly looking at new ways of positively impacting on people’s lives and achieving real cohesion.” 

Unity’s work has also been praised by Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council.

He said: “Unity Homes and Enterprise has played a leading role over the last 30 years in helping to transform Leeds into the modern, outward-looking city it has become.

“I have visited a number of Unity’s affordable housing schemes and am constantly impressed by the quality of homes it provides.

“However, Unity is much more than just a housing association and is rightly highly-regarded for its positive work in the communities it serves.

“I congratulate everyone who has played a part in Unity’s success and look forward to many more achievements in the future.”   

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, addressing Unity’s Annual General meeting in 2015

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, addressing Unity’s Annual General meeting in 2015

COLERAINE BUILDING FIRM PREPARES TO CELEBRATE SILVER ANNIVERSARY 

Well-known Coleraine company JK Joinery and Building Services is set to mark 25 years in business this autumn.

Founded by local tradesman Jason Kyle in 1992, the firm recently moved to new premises at Knockantern Grove close to the town centre.

Already an established provider of high quality joinery services including wooden staircases, fencing, decking and commercial premises fit-outs, the company’s offer has widened significantly in recent times.

Alongside house renovations and extensions, loft and garage conversions, sunrooms and new builds, JK Joinery and Building Services is now regarded as the North Coast’s leading roofing contractor, and also supplies and installs high quality uPVC products including windows and doors.

However, staying true to its roots, fully qualified joiners remain available on a round-the-clock basis to carry out property repairs. 

Owner and director Jason Kyle said he was proud of the journey the company had made over the last quarter of a century and looked forward to exciting times ahead.

Jason Kyle, Director, JK Joinery and Building Services

Jason Kyle, Director, JK Joinery and Building Services

Jason commented: “We started off very small but, over the last few years, have been able to take on bigger and bigger jobs across the full range of joinery and building services we offer.

“I still take a hands-on approach and will only employ the best tradesmen available.  It means that clients can be assured of a first class job and will use us again.  It’s a simple concept and, with a very competitive pricing structure, this has allowed us to grow as a business.”

Jason added that the move to a new yard off the Bushmills Road in Coleraine was a signal of future intent as the firm’s 25th anniversary approaches.

He said: “It is important that we move with the times and have the extra space needed to match our expansion. 

“We’re looking forward to a little celebration later in the year with clients and others who have helped us along the way.

“On a personal level, I’m proud to be leading a successful Coleraine-based company that is doing first class work and providing high quality local jobs.   Hopefully we’ll still be going strong 25 years from now.”       

JK Joinery and Building Services can be contacted on Tel: 07521 646408 or by emailing jkyle570@googlemail.com