Employers hail ‘fantastic platform’ provided by Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

Exhibitors aere delighted by the prospective recruits of all experience levels at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 after 50 employers were joined by more than 1,500 job seekers at the First Direct Arena.

Big crowds at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

Big crowds at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

Organised by Herd founder Amy De-Balsi with support from sponsors Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Bruntwood SciTech and Fruition IT, the high profile gathering included a career health check service – also provided by Fruition IT - and tech talks on the Hey! conference stage.

A host of employers have spoken of the huge benefits of being together and showcasing the industry.

Amy De-Balsi (left) with Helen Wright, Head of Development at cap hpi

Amy De-Balsi (left) with Helen Wright, Head of Development at cap hpi

They include David Collings, Head of Marketing at automotive industry experts cap hpi, who said: “The Leeds Digital Job Fair gave cap hpi the opportunity to speak with lots of digitally-focused people looking for employment in the Leeds area.  We had some great conversations with a variety of people, from those taking their first steps in the employment arena, all the way through to those who were looking for their next challenge.

“From the moment the doors opened, our team were busily talking with those interested in cap hpi, having some valuable time with more than 150 people on the day.

“Amy and the entire team were fantastic and put on an excellent event to get us in front of so many people.”

Samantha Mitchell, HR Coordinator at AHC, said: “The Digital Fair gave us a fantastic platform to showcase some of the exciting projects that we have worked on as well as an opportunity to meet enthusiastic new talent. 

“There are several candidates that we have decided to progress through our recruitment process and we are excited to see where this takes us.”

The AHC stand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

The AHC stand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

Mark South, Director at Double Eleven, said: "It was a pleasure attending Leeds Digital Job Fair.  It gave Double Eleven the opportunity to meet face-to-face with prospective applicants and introduce ourselves to potential employees.

 “As a direct result of the event, we've received expressions of interest in some of our specialised technical roles."

Samantha Wragg, Talent Acquisition Manager at twentysix, said:

“We loved the Herd fair yet again this year.  This was our third time exhibiting, and not only did we meet amazing and interesting potential candidates, we also found meeting other companies and contacts within the Leeds digital community fantastic.

“It was great to speak with so many young people keen to undertake a digital or technology apprenticeship and work placements as well.  This highlights how our future workforce and looking to educate and develop themselves.”

 Abi Aldred, HR Advisor at CNG, said: “There was a real buzz throughout the whole event, the kind where you know something really awesome is going to happen.

 “It was great meeting so many like-minded, motivated people who can’t wait to take the next step in their career.

 “As a company we loved being amongst other great employers, helping aspirational people to visualise the next steps on their journey.”

The CNG stand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

The CNG stand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

 Amy De-Balsi, who established the Leeds Digital Job Fair in 2016, said she was thrilled by the feedback received.

She continued: “It was the most relaxed Job Fair we’ve staged so far and the informality – which is a characteristic of the Leeds digital sector – really helped employers and potential recruits to properly chat on the day.

“There was also an increased number of experienced tech professionals present which offered employers the chance to showcase the wide range of vacancies and career progression opportunities available for candidates at all levels.

“My aim is always to raise the bar at every Leeds Digital Job Fair and we succeeded once again.

“Details of Leeds Digital Job Fair 6.0 will be released next year.”   

Free for all at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

Techies looking to advance their careers are invited to sign up free of charge to attend Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 this Thursday (24 October) at the First Direct Arena, with doors opening at 3.30pm.

Automotive industry experts cap hpi top the list of almost 50 employers who will be present on the day and eager to talk to prospective recruits. 

Other high-profile exhibitors will include Sky Betting & Gaming, FinancialForce, the British Library, The Stars Group, DWP Digital and BJSS.  

David Collings

David Collings

David Collings, Head of Marketing at cap hpi, said: “We’re attending the Leeds Digital Job Fair once again because it’s a key event for cap hpi to meet up with some amazingly talented people with great digital skill sets. The event offers a central place for cap hpi to meet and chat with some of the best digital talent the Leeds area can offer.

“We’re a Leeds-based business and we’re big believers that the digital talent in our region is second to none. We’ve seen phenomenal growth in the last few years and that is down to the fantastic people we’ve brought in.

“The Job Fair helps us get in front of these fantastic people to explain what we do and what we can offer future employees, whether they’re just starting out, looking for a career change or seasoned professionals.”    

Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 will also feature a series of talks from industry experts on the new Hey! conference stage.

Josh Nesbitt

Josh Nesbitt

Hey! founder Josh Nesbitt said: “I’m really excited to be bringing our regular event and conference Hey! - a platform for the tech community - to Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 for an event covering the various challenges and lessons learned from working in the digital sector.

“From a talk about looking after your own mental health, to dealing with ADHD, to scaling an agency and all the logistics that comes with that, I’m proud of our varied and experienced line-up.”

Leeds Digital Job Fair 5,0 is organised by Herd founder Amy De-Balsi with support from sponsors Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Bruntwood SciTech and Fruition IT. 

Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi

She said: “It promises to be a fantastic day with a huge range of top-level employers on show.

“Their mission is to identify and recruit the best available candidates with the potential to improve business performance and productivity in the ever-competitive Leeds digital sector.

“Given the large number of exhibitors and the choice of positions on offer, attendees should allow time to speak to as many employers as possible.  There will be opportunities for people of all levels of experience in tech.

“Online registration is quick and easy and is essential to attend First Direct Arena.

“I look forward to a huge turnout on Thursday.”          

You can register for free to attend Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 by visiting www.herd.careers  

Departing Finance Director leaves Manningham Housing Association on a high

It is common practice for valued employees to move onto new pastures carrying a souvenir to remind them of their achievements in their old job. 

But Helen Rourke, who has just left her post as Director of Finance and Company Secretary at Bradford-based Manningham Housing Association, has set an especially high bar.

Last week, Mrs Rourke was named Finance Professional of the Year at the prestigious Women in Housing Awards at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.

She has now taken up the position of Executive Director – Finance with Mosscare St Vincent’s Housing Group. 

Helen Rourke

Helen Rourke

Mrs Rourke was nominated for her award by MHA Chief Executive Lee Bloomfield, who said he was thrilled but not surprised by her success.

Lee Bloomfield

Lee Bloomfield

Mr Bloomfield, who triumphed in the Mentor of the Year category at the Housing Heroes awards in July, commented: “Helen has been a wonderful colleague and is a worthy winner at the Women in Housing Awards.

“She began her professional career as a trainee at KPMG and quickly progressed through the housing finance world, serving as Assistant Director for Finance at Parkway Green Housing Trust and Finance Director at Trafford Housing Trust before joining MHA.

“Helen demonstrated remarkable leadership skills in working with the Executive Team and Board to enable us to significantly improve our governance and financial viability ratings as determined by the Regulator of Social Housing.

“She also acted as a mentor to up and coming housing finance professionals.  

“Helen leaves with our sincere good wishes as the newly-crowned Finance Professional of the Year.”  

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings, Chair of the MHA Board, said: “I am really pleased for Helen who has been a first-class ambassador for Manningham Housing Association and a tremendous support to Board members past and present.

 “There is no doubt that future accomplishments will be added to her deeply-merited Women in Housing Award.” 

Helen Rourke said: “I'm really shocked and humbled to have been given the award. 

“There were some incredible women recognised on the night, and some inspiring stories of what they have achieved across the sector, and I feel honoured to be counted amongst them.  

“It has been a real privilege to have been part of Manningham's journey over the last two years. 

“Everything we have achieved together is testament to the hard work of the Executive, Board and staff, and I wish them every success into the future."

Interviews for the new position of Director of Finance and Resources at MHA are currently underway with the successful candidate expected to be announced next month.

Flurry of new sign-ups for Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

An impressive parade of new exhibitors has been revealed for Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 at the First Direct Arena on Thursday 24 October from 3.30-7.30pm.

Mark Walsh, CEO/Founder, Kwizzbit

Mark Walsh, CEO/Founder, Kwizzbit

They range from long-established automotive industry experts cap hpi through to start-up KwizzBit, a company founded by serial entrepreneur Mark Walsh and quickly establishing itself as an exciting new player in the Leeds digital and tech sector.    

They will be joined by Fortune Global 500 firm Accenture which - alongside fellow newcomers Emerald Publishing, AND Digital, Audacia, AHC, Double Eleven, The Stars Group, The Coders Guild, Hippo Digital, Blue Mantis and DMW - will be making a debut appearance at the event.

Meanwhile, Northcoders will be returning to the First Direct Arena together with a host of previous exhibitors including Crisp, Financial Force, Equiniti Credit Services, FDM Group, Age Partnership, TPP Careers, Aire Logic, EMIS, Leeds City College and Leeds Trinity University.

Last month it was confirmed that BJSS, Sky Betting & Gaming, the Department for Work and Pensions, Yorkshire Building Society, First Direct and the British Library will also be present to talk to potential digital and tech recruits. 

Sponsored by Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Bruntwood SciTech and Fruition IT, Leeds Digital Job Fair was established by Herd founder Amy De-Balsi in 2016 to enable employers to talk directly to tech talent of all experience levels. 

The cpi hpi stand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

The cpi hpi stand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

Keen to reach even greater heights, Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 will showcase the new Hey! conference stage in the main auditorium featuring an inspirational speaker line-up including Chris Witham from the NHS Leadership Academy, James Hall of Parallax and Sky’s Sally Bridgewater.

With not long to go until the big day, Ms De-Balsi encouraged employers to grab the last few remaining exhibitor slots.

Amy De-Balsi, Director, Leeds Digital Job Fair

Amy De-Balsi, Director, Leeds Digital Job Fair

She said: “Yorkshire and Humber’s digital job numbers have grown at more than twice the general rate of employment as a whole in last six years – five per cent for digital against two per cent overall.  

“Within Leeds City Region, there are currently 7,565 digital businesses employing 47,000 people, and those figures are rising all the time.

“However, last year there were 14,000 skill shortage vacancies for digital professional roles.

“Competition for the finest available tech talent is now fierce.

“The purpose of the Leeds Digital Job Fair is to help fill vacancies by encouraging skilled people to consider working in the region’s flourishing digital sector, as well as enabling those already employed as tech professionals to further advance their careers.

“We have achieved remarkable success over the previous four events, helped by the fact that individuals who want to come along to speak to employers are able to sign up free of charge.  That will be the case again on 24 October, with the Hey! conference stage certainly adding to the numbers who have already registered.    

“The list of confirmed exhibitors for Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 is unquestionably the best yet, including our diverse and innovative start-ups section which is now at full capacity. 

“A handful of stands remain, but I would urge companies with current or future tech vacancies to get involved by signing up before they all go.” 

Employers interested in exhibiting at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 or individuals wanting to register to attend for free should visit www.herd.careers

Leeds MP Hilary Benn ‘very impressed’ by new Platform for city’s digital and tech sector

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn has visited Platform – home to the city’s vibrant tech cluster.  Mr Benn was given a tour of the building and participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from some of the 80 companies based there including Northcoders, DigiBete, Isokron and Other Things.

Hilary Benn MP with Jessica Bowles, Jessica has a accountDirector of Strategy at Bruntwood (far right), Amy De-Balsi, Head of Innovation & Partnerships at Bruntwood SciTech (third from right) and representatives of companies based at Platform

Hilary Benn MP with Jessica Bowles, Jessica has a accountDirector of Strategy at Bruntwood (far right), Amy De-Balsi, Head of Innovation & Partnerships at Bruntwood SciTech (third from right) and representatives of companies based at Platform

Part of Bruntwood SciTech, the 13-storey building next to Leeds station is now the focal point of the region’s digital entrepreneurial talent.

Platform’s tech hub includes 42 studio offices and co-working space. The large lounge and roof terrace offer a range of social, networking and business support events, all designed to stimulate collaboration and support business growth.  

He commented: “I’ve really enjoyed it and was very impressed. 

“The digital and tech sector is hugely important to the city. It’s growing and what Bruntwood SciTech is offering is a chance for new businesses to set up and hopefully grow, expand and employ other people.  That adds to the success of the city. 

“Congratulations to all involved.”

The Leeds Central MP was shown around by Amy De-Balsi, Head of Innovation & Partnerships for Bruntwood SciTech in Leeds. 

Amy said: “We are proud of Platform and the diverse mix of digital and tech talent we host.  It was a pleasure to welcome Hilary and introduce him to the people and activities which have earned Platform’s reputation as the home of tech in Leeds.

“Bruntwood SciTech is working hard to provide tech start-ups with vital business support – from university talent and investors to professional service providers.  Digital and tech firms no longer have to go to London for investment.  Platform stands proudly as testament to this.   

“We work to provide companies at all stages of the business life cycle with inspirational, innovative environments in which to thrive.  34 jobs were created in Platform’s tech hub during its first year of operation.  With new companies joining us all the time, that number is expected to grow significantly.

“It was terrific that Hilary took time out to visit and allow us to showcase what Bruntwood SciTech does.  We look forward to welcoming him back to Platform soon.” 

Hilary Benn MP participates in a roundtable discussion during his visit to Platform

Hilary Benn MP participates in a roundtable discussion during his visit to Platform

The building is home to the Northcoders bootcamp, the first of its kind in Leeds.  

Chris Hill, Founder and CEO of Northcoders who took part in the roundtable with Mr Benn, said: “Hilary’s interest and pride in the technology sector within Leeds are extremely clear. More so is his passion for the people in this city, and the opportunities this thriving sector provides for them.

“Northcoders is working hard to train people from all works of life and ultimately provide the cutting-edge skills which companies need to fuel their growth.  Technology is the present and the future of our region. I find it reassuring to know that supporting that is very much on the political radar and would like to thanks Hilary for his time."

Rob Julian, Co-Founder/Director of DigiBete, said he was also pleased to meet the Leeds Central MP and discuss the company’s work.

He said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to be able to raise the profile of our social enterprise supporting young people and their families managing the complexities of Type 1 Diabetes. 

“We felt that Hilary really engaged with our mission.  We particularly enjoyed the discussion around opportunities for engaging with harder to reach communities which is a passion that we all shared.” 

High praise from Lord Mayor as BME-led housing association celebrates ‘best ever year’

A Leeds-based housing association has been praised by the city’s Lord Mayor for its efforts to create “strong and vibrant communities” over more than three decades.

Speaking at the Unity Homes & Enterprise Annual General Meeting, Cllr Eileen Taylor told guests she had worked closely with the association as a local ward member. 

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, makes her keynote speech

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, makes her keynote speech

“Unity has led the way by realising very early on that creating a sustainable neighbourhood is about more than just affordable housing,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“I have witnessed the excellent work that Unity has contributed towards creating strong and vibrant communities.  They provide for very deprived areas in Leeds and further afield.  It is no surprise that, with over 30 years of knowledge and collective experience, it is regarded as one of the country’s most successful BME-led housing associations.”

Unity Homes & Enterprise Chief Executive Ali Akbor delivers his annual address

Unity Homes & Enterprise Chief Executive Ali Akbor delivers his annual address

Delivering his annual report, Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor described the last 12 months as the association’s “best ever year.”

He said: “We have had our governance and financial viability ratings upgraded to the highest possible levels by the Regulator of Social Housing.  We are halfway through the most ambitious development programme in our history to deliver 220 new homes by 2021.  Unity Employment Services helped 119 people into jobs, 179 to improve their skills and employability through training and 24 people to find voluntary work.  And Unity Enterprise, our not-for-profit subsidiary, generated a financial surplus which will be used to further improve facilities and services at our three business centres.”

Mr Akbor said the association had much to look forward to in the year ahead, but warned that it would be operating in a vacuum of “deep uncertainty on societal and public policy levels.”

He told the meeting: “The ongoing Brexit mess is affecting every local community in this country, and the neighbourhoods whose interests we serve are clearly no exception.  It is now more than a year since the Social Housing Green Paper was published but, with a minority Government in place, there seems little chance that follow-up legislation will be enacted any time soon.  It is not a great legacy for the Grenfell victims.

“We face the prospect of a General Election, a second EU referendum or both in the months ahead.  And with weeks to go until the 31 October Brexit deadline, we still have no idea if the UK will leave the European Union – never mind what lies ahead on 1 November if we do.”

He pledged: “What I can say for certain is that, whatever happens, Unity will remain loyal to our partners, tenants and our communities.  Our dedication and our professionalism will always shine through in every situation that confronts us.  We are motivated by providing housing choice, improving people’s lives and addressing inequalities.  And our mission is to use our energies, skills and services to grow sustainable communities.  Nothing will ever distract us from that task.”  

Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava

Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava

Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava said that, despite “really challenging times when it feels like our political leaders are fuelling division and conflict, we’re actively trying to do the opposite.” 

She continued: “Perhaps our most important impact is our commitment to community cohesion, bringing communities and different people together, and fighting against inequalities, race hate and division.   We’ve absolutely got to continue to deliver on all parts of our social purpose: our commitment to addressing inequalities, improving lives in areas with high BME populations, and turning them into vibrant sustainable multi-cultural neighbourhoods, and to make sure that this drives everything we do.

Ms Bhargava added: “It’s really important that we both fight against what’s happening, and also be an example to others – whether that’s other housing associations, public bodies, the government, or the rest of our society.  I think collectively that we are role models, and a shining light to others – in the rest of the country, including the housing sector and politicians, showing them what can be done to address inequality, bring communities together, and improve people’s lives.”

Chapeltown Cohousing Chair Bill Phelps

Chapeltown Cohousing Chair Bill Phelps

Also addressing the event, Chapeltown Cohousing Chair Bill Phelps spoke about his organisation’s joint work with Unity to deliver 60 new affordable homes in north-east Leeds in a pioneering £9.3 million project.

“The partnership has worked really well for us,” he said. 

“I hope this can be a model for other partnerships between community-led housing groups and the more enlightened housing associations that are prepared to take a bit of a risk in order to try to achieve something remarkable. That’s what’s happening and I’m really grateful for it.”

Dr Shamim Miah, Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield

Dr Shamim Miah, Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield

And Dr Shamim Miah, Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, said he was deeply impressed by Unity’s commitment to seeing a project through. 

He told attendees: “We are living in historically unprecedented and chaotic times.  Unity addresses the issues and rise to the challenges of making a difference to people’s lives.” 

Trio of top speakers confirmed for Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0

An inspiring speaker line-up has been announced for Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 at the First Direct Arena on Thursday 24 October from 3.30-7.30pm.

They will add an extra dimension to what is set to be a memorable day when 50 exhibitors and an expected 2,000 job seekers descend on the city centre venue for the North’s biggest digital and tech recruitment event.    

Chris Whitham

Chris Whitham

Sponsored by Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Bruntwood SciTech and Fruition IT, Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 is the event for employers to talk directly to prospective new talent, whether experienced tech professionals or those starting a new career.

Three speakers will take to the Hey! conference stage in the main auditorium.   

James Hall

James Hall

Chris Witham, Digital Delivery Lead at NHS Leadership Academy, will talk about his personal experiences of mental ill-health and the importance of employees taking care of themselves and each other in the workplace - including how to recognise early warning signs.

James Hall, Director of Leeds-based Parallax, will guide attendees through the process of setting up a digital agency from scratch, including common technical and logistical challenges likely to be encountered along the way.

Sally Bridgewater

Sally Bridgewater

And Sky’s Sally Bridgewater, an associate software developer, will deliver a thought-provoking presentation into how two apparently unrelated subjects - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Scrum, the project planning system used by software companies –  brought together in her home life with dramatic results.

Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 is being organised by Herd founder Amy De-Balsi who said that each speaker comes with a strong reputation for excellence.

She commented: “I am always excited in the run-up to the Leeds Digital Job Fair, but next month’s event will be more special than ever before.

“The city’s digital and tech sector is rooted in inspiration and a powerful desire to break down barriers by sharing knowledge with others.

“Our three guest speakers have been carefully chosen to reflect these values, with each bringing something a little different to the platform.”

Ms De-Balsi said that exhibitor slots are filling up quickly, but some do remain starting from just £200 for start-ups through to gold packages for major employers.

Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi

Recent sign-ups have included IT and business consultancy BJSS, Sky Betting & Gaming, the Department for Work and Pensions, Yorkshire Building Society, First Direct and the British Library. 

She said: “We are thrilled at the varied range of well-known businesses and public sector organisations that we have been able to confirm so far, with several more to be announced soon.

“All will have vacancies available on the day as the Leeds City Region digital sector continues to flourish and expand.

“My advice to other employers who want to get involved is to grab your place while you can because we will sell out

“People of all ages keen to progress their careers in tech by coming along to the event are invited to register for free.”    

Employers interested in exhibiting at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 or individuals wanting to attend should visit www.herd.careers  

New appointments boost for Manningham Housing Association

Manningham Housing Association (MHA) has announced the appointment of two senior managers and two apprentices.    

After five years at the National Lottery Community Fund and with previous experience in housing and business development, Nas Hussain takes up post as Community Partnerships and Investment Manager

He will work with MHA partners and stakeholders to deliver neighbourhood improvements schemes in Bradford and Keighley.

Matthew Hayes joins as IT Manager and is tasked with co-ordinating the association’s revamped digital technology infrastructure. 

He arrives after almost a decade and a half of at one of the UK’s leading independent IT companies.

L to Rt: Lee Bloomfield, Manningham Housing Association Chief Executive with Nas Hussain, Community Partnerships and Investment Manager and Matthew Hayes, IT Manager

L to Rt: Lee Bloomfield, Manningham Housing Association Chief Executive with Nas Hussain, Community Partnerships and Investment Manager and Matthew Hayes, IT Manager

L to R: Lee Bloomfield, Manningham Housing Association Chief Executive, with apprentices Avtar Dhesi and Aanish Rehman

L to R: Lee Bloomfield, Manningham Housing Association Chief Executive, with apprentices Avtar Dhesi and Aanish Rehman

MHA has also recruited two new apprentices.

Aanish Rehman will be part of the finance team, working four days per week at the association’s Bradford head office as well as spending a day at college completing an Association of Accounting Technicians professional qualification.

Avtar Dhesi will work with the MHA health & safety and compliance unit for four days each week, and study for a Business Administration NVQ Level 3 through City Training Services on day five.  

MHA Chief Executive Lee Bloomfield explained that both senior recruits had been brought onboard to implement newly agreed Board strategies. 

And he said he was equally thrilled to welcome two new apprentices to the association’s ranks.

Mr Bloomfield commented: “Nas will help us deliver our new Community Investment Strategy which provides a framework for us to work with stakeholders to help local residents and build more resilient communities.  It is designed to make best use of internal resources and attract external funding.

“Our ICT Strategy, which Matthew will oversee, serves as a guide to ensure our use of the best available technology is aligned to our corporate objectives whilst being secure, efficient and cost effective.

“We also wanted to recruit two young apprentices and give them an opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in highly-skilled and technical areas of the organisation.

“Aanish and Avtar have already fitted in extremely well at MHA.  I have no doubt that their time with us will open doors to amazing careers.”

Barrington Billings, MHA Chair, said:  “My Board colleagues and I are proud of both new strategies and delighted to have Nas and Matthew with us to help deliver them.

“Aanish and Avtar also come highly-recommended and are making positive impressions. 

“We have first-rate standards at Manningham Housing Association.  I know that our new staff members will enable us to reach even greater heights.”

Nas Hussain, MHA Community Partnerships and Investment Manager, said: “The Community Investment Strategy is an exciting piece of work.  I am very much looking forward to working with partners from the public, voluntary and private sectors to improve the lives of Bradford and Keighley residents.”    

Matthew Hayes, MHA IT Manager, said: “A robust and forward-thinking ICT strategy is vitally important for organisations that wish to be successful in the modern world.  Manningham Housing Association is clearly going places.  I am excited to be on that journey.” 

Lord Mayor to join housing association’s celebration of local communities

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.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Eileen Taylor and Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor lay the foundation stone at the joint Unity-ChaCo housing development in Chapeltown

The Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Eileen Taylor and Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor lay the foundation stone at the joint Unity-ChaCo housing development in Chapeltown

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.

Unity Homes and Enterprise Chief Executive Ali Akbor addresses the association’s AGM in 2018

Unity Homes and Enterprise Chief Executive Ali Akbor addresses the association’s AGM in 2018

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.”      

Leeds Digital Job Fair is back for best of 5.0

The North’s digital and tech community are set to return to the First Direct Arena after it was announced that Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 will take place on 24 October from 3.30pm. 

More than 1,300 eager digital and tech candidates and 33 exhibitors attended the inaugural Leeds Digital Job Fair in February 2016, the first recruitment event ever to be held at the iconic city centre venue. 

The gatherings have become progressively larger in scale and profile ever since with last year’s event attracting the maximum number of 50 employers including Sky Betting and Gaming, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, NHS Digital, DWP Digital, Sky and the Royal Air Force.   

Sky in demand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

Sky in demand at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

Exhibitor packages for Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 are now available, ranging from just £200 for start-up companies through to gold packages for major employers.

People wishing to explore the job opportunities on offer will again be able to register to attend free of charge.  

Organised by Herd, the event will be sponsored by Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Bruntwood SciTech and Fruition IT.

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi said she believed Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 is especially timely with Channel 4 having begun to recruit staff to work in its new national headquarters in the city.

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

Ms De-Balsi continued: “Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 is the ideal place for developers, analysts, digital marketers, designers, data scientists and those seeking a career change to meet the North’s leading tech employers face to face.

“There will also be a series of seminars led in partnership with Hey! events, CV clinics by Fruition IT and workshops led by well-known figures in digital.

“Channel 4 is already making its presence felt in the city and its recruitment drive has added impetus to the Leeds digital and tech sector which continues to blaze a trail.

“We are limited to 50 exhibitor slots.  I encourage employers to sign up early and the team at Herd will endeavour to meet your needs.”  

Cllr James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Resource and Sustainability, said: “Leeds has a thriving and ever-growing digital and tech industry, and we are really looking forward to this year’s Digital Job Fair 5.0 opening at the First Direct Arena in October.

“This is a wonderful chance for anyone with an interest in pursuing a career in the digital and tech sector to find out more about the opportunities that are available with a range of leading and high-profile employers.”

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and NP11, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Leeds Digital Job Fair 2019 and be part of an event that highlights the vast range of digital roles, skills and businesses in Leeds City Region.

“With the region’s digital sector contributing 6.5 billion to the City Region economy and employing 102,000 people, digital and tech is both a major strength and growth opportunity.

“As a region we have strengths in digital creativity, corporate tech solutions, fintech, medtech, robotics and data analytics, and with the arrival of Channel 4 the opportunities for careers starters, changers and returners are greater than ever before.”

Phil Kemp, CEO, Bruntwood SciTech, said: “We are proud to support Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0.

“The event has a well-established reputation for bringing the best digital and tech talent together under one roof, which is exactly aligned to what we’re doing with the creation of our tech cluster at Platform. 

“It’s already home to more than 80 of the city’s most innovative digital and tech businesses and the Digital Jobs Fair will be crucial in helping us to attract more innovators to the city. 

“Leeds City Region is developing the future economy around digital, meaning tech start-ups no longer have to go to London to flourish. 

“Working with a broad range of partners from across the city including universities, professional service providers and corporate tech teams, we’re making rapid progress in helping to grow the tech community in Leeds.”

The RAF on display at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

The RAF on display at Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0

Sarah Pawson, Managing Director of Fruition IT, said: “As an organisation supporting the growth of Leeds’ thriving tech industry, we’re delighted to be supporting the Job Fair again this year as the exclusive recruitment partner. 

“The arrival of new organisations and growth of existing ones is brilliant for the area, but with this comes increase demand for talent, in many areas with skills shortages. 

“The Job Fair is one of many initiatives in our region that encourage people to explore and consider new opportunities, and we’ll be on hand to offering career advice and support to anyone considering a move into, or within the tech industry.”  

Employers interested in exhibiting at Leeds Digital Job Fair 5.0 or individuals wanting to attend should visit www.herd.careers  

Housing association staff volunteer for local good causes

A new initiative to enable staff to take paid time off throughout the year to do voluntary work in the community has been launched by Manningham Housing Association (MHA).

The scheme is part of the association’s revised human resources strategy which aims to broaden workplace experiences whilst benefitting the wider population in Bradford and Keighley.

Each team member has been invited to volunteer on a project or with a local charitable group for one day a quarter.

Staff who are already engaged in community activities in a voluntary capacity will be able to do so in work time four days a year without it affecting their leave allocation.  

MHA has recently made the headlines after being shortlisted for six national awards.  

The association’s Chief Executive, Lee Bloomfield, was named Mentor of the Year at the Housing Heroes Awards and Helen Rourke, MHA Director of Finance and Company Secretary, has just been shortlisted as Finance Professional of the Year for the forthcoming Women in Housing Awards.

MHA has also achieved the highest standard of customer service excellence and become the first housing association in the country to be officially accredited for its work in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.    

Lee Bloomfield

Lee Bloomfield

Commenting on the new voluntary work scheme, Mr Bloomfield said it was important that MHA staff were able to get as close as possible to the communities they serve whilst enhancing their personal skills.  

He continued: “Our customers rely on us for more than bricks and mortar and our team members are always keen to help those in need in any way they can.

“Serving alongside other volunteers and learning more about what they do is incredibly helpful.

“It deepens the knowledge of MHA staff and can make a tangible difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Bradford and Keighley.

“There is a wide range of projects to choose from including working in food banks, in charity shops or simply rolling up our sleeves in community clean-ups – I shall certainly be doing my bit too.

“Everyone taking part will prepare a short summary of what they have done and this will form part of the MHA annual report

“Our staff are strongly supportive of the initiative and look forward to undertaking challenging new tasks.”          

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings, Chair of Manningham Housing Association, praised the “foresight” of the scheme. 

He said: “This is an excellent idea and it has the full support of the Board.

“The overarching HR strategy is designed to help the association achieve its corporate objectives which include broadening the experiences of MHA employees whilst further assisting our customers.

“Lee and his senior management team have done a magnificent job in putting it together.  I am confident it will deliver positive outcomes for all involved.

“The level of professionalism now on display at every level of MHA is the reason why, after some difficult years, the association has won a well-deserved reputation for excellence and tangible achievement.          “

“We look to the future with a deep sense of pride and ever-growing optimism.”

‘Revolutionary’ Leeds housing project lauded by Lord Mayor

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, has laid the first stone on a pioneering £9.3 million housing development which will provide more than 60 new homes for people in the north-east of the city.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, lays the first stone at the Leopold Street development alongside project partners and ChaCo stakeholders

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, lays the first stone at the Leopold Street development alongside project partners and ChaCo stakeholders

She joined project partners at the Leopold Park scheme which is a combined venture between BME-led housing association Unity Homes & Enterprise and Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo).

The site was owned by Leeds City Council after previously being occupied by a social services office which became vacant prior to demolition.

Unity will build 30 one and two bed flats for clients over 55. 

ChaCo will construct 29 houses and flats, a ‘common house’ and provide space for four self-build units.

The development is due for completion by March 2021.

Homes England, the Government’s housing agency, has allocated £1.4 million in grant support for the scheme as well as £1.34 million through its Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The remaining monies have been secured by a combination of private finance and savings from ChaCo stakeholders who will live in the properties once they are built.

The Lord Mayor said: “I have followed the progress of this revolutionary initiative very closely. 

“Unity has a long-standing reputation for providing first-class affordable homes for people across the city.  Based in Chapeltown, they know the area and the needs of local residents incredibly well. They do an excellent job.”       

She said she was “intrigued” by ChaCo’s role in delivering the area’s first cohousing scheme. 

There are currently 19 cohousing communities in the country - including one in Bramley - having first appeared in the late 1990s.  According to UK Cohousing, more than 60 cohousing groups are developing new projects with others in the pipeline.  

Cohousing is a means of bringing individuals and families together in groups to share common aims and activities whilst enjoying their own self-contained accommodation.

As well as their own private homes, everyone has the use of shared facilities in the ‘common house’ which includes washing machines, guest rooms for visiting relatives and a large kitchen and dining room where everyone can eat.

The Lord Mayor said: “It is a wonderful and fascinating concept.  We live in challenging times.  I am all for new ideas which bring people together.  ChaCo deserves great credit for their foresight and I look forward to seeing the final results.”

Bill Phelps, ChaCo Chair, said he was thrilled that construction work was getting underway.

He said: “The seeds for ChaCo’s emergence were sown in 2010 when members of a small housing co-op invited friends living nearby to explore the idea of setting up a local cohousing scheme.  Since then, we have been supported by many other Chapeltown residents who want to create a neighbourhood where co-operation and sharing are built in from the start. 

“It is remarkable that we have now reached the development stage and, in less than two years, people will be living in their new homes.

“We are delighted to be able to demonstrate that community-led housing schemes are not restricted to wealthy parts of the country. They can be a viable proposition wherever residents come together to enhance their own neighbourhoods. It has been an extremely positive experience working alongside all the partners helping to make this project a reality - particularly Unity, whose expertise, cooperation and encouragement have made all the difference."

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes & Enterprise Chief Executive, explained that the 30 one and two bed flats the association was building represented one of the most significant investments it had made in recent times.

He said: “It is always fulfilling to see new properties come out of the ground after several years of planning.  Our joint work with ChaCo has made this scheme all the more interesting and, in common with everyone who has helped us get to this point, I am full of positive expectation for what lies ahead.

“Unity is rightly focussed on providing high quality affordable homes.  But we are also driven by a desire to regenerate communities, create life opportunities and address  inequalities within sustainable neighbourhoods.  This scheme ticks all of those boxes and underscores that we are doing our job well.

“As an organisation which emanated from the Leeds BME community more than three decades ago, it is hugely appropriate that Cllr Taylor is laying the first stone as the city’s first black Lord Mayor.”   

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, lays the first stone at the Leopold Street development, assisted by Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, lays the first stone at the Leopold Street development, assisted by Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor

Richard Panter, Homes England Area Manager, said: “This is a great example of collaboration and partnership working, both within Homes England and across sectors.

“Bringing together Leeds City Council, ChaCo and Unity with Homes England funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund and the Shared Ownership and Affordable Housing programme, this project will provide an innovative model for the future and, more importantly, high quality affordable homes for the local community.”

Leeds adults with learning difficulties Leep into fashion

A Leeds community interest company which helps adults with learning disabilities to speak up for themselves have received support from Unity Enterprise to launch a new range of leisure wear featuring designs created by its members.

Leep 1 - which stands for Leeds People First – offers a wide variety of activities to develop social, health and educational skills. 

It also runs the popular Café Leep which, in 2017, won the Yorkshire and Humber round of the Britain’s Best Café competition. 

The organisation is based at Unity Business Centre on Roundhay Road, one of three business locations in Leeds owned and managed by Unity Enterprise, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Unity Homes and Enterprise, which provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 employers.

Leep 1 recently started a digital inclusion course which enables participants to design, market and sell clothing carrying the hashtag #AbilitiesNotDisabilities together with their own artwork or slogan.

Unity offered to sponsor the first run of products which includes tee shirts and hoodies.

Ali Akbor (far right) and Adrian Green (second from right) with Angie Marshall from Leep 1 (centre), Susan Hanley (third from left) and other designers from the #AbilitiesNotDisabilities project

Ali Akbor (far right) and Adrian Green (second from right) with Angie Marshall from Leep 1 (centre), Susan Hanley (third from left) and other designers from the #AbilitiesNotDisabilities project

Unity Homes and Enterprise Chief Executive Ali Akbor and Unity Enterprise Manager Adrian Green visited Leep 1 to try on the new apparel and congratulate participants and staff on their achievements.       

Mr Akbor said: “We are honoured to support this initiative.  It has brought great fulfilment to all involved, particularly the designers who are rightly proud of what they have produced.  It was wonderful to meet them.

“The designs are colourful, imaginative and eye-catching.  I hope the local community will get behind Leep 1 by ordering clothing for themselves or perhaps as presents for friends and family. 

“Their central message, #AbilitiesNotDisabilities, is incredibly powerful and perfectly sums up what Leep 1 stands for.” 

Mandy Haigh, Leep 1 Manager who coordinates the #AbilitiesNotDisabilities project, said: “Our 12-week digital inclusion course is devised to properly equip participants with skills that will be attractive to prospective employers. 

“As well as designing the clothing line, everyone is encouraged to come up with their own marketing campaigns, including the use of social media, to secure sales.

“We intend to make the clothes available to order online via a dedicated website.  Each designer will have a biography which will make reference to their disability and how they came up with their unique design.”    

Susan Hanley, who has Down’s Syndrome, is Chairperson of Leep 1 and designed her own hoodie which is part of the range now on sale.  It is emblazoned with the words, “You’ll Turn Out Ordinary If You’re Not Careful.”   

Susan said: “The idea behind the clothing is to raise awareness of adults with learning disabilities and show people what we can do, not what we can’t do. 

“We had a soft launch at one of our club nights which we hold every month and sold lots of tee shirts and hoodies, which got us off to a great start.

“It has been really interesting to see the process from coming up with the designs right through to seeing people wearing the final results." 

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise Manager, said: “Leep 1 has been a tenant at Unity Business Centre for nine years and we love having the team on board.

“Everything they do radiates enthusiasm and positivity. 

“Café Leep, which teaches trainees a huge amount of skills and provides a path to qualifications in food safety and catering, is always busy and well worth a visit for a first-class lunch or hot drink.    

“It is a pleasure to support #AbilitiesNotDisabilities which I know will be a major success.”

More information about Leep 1 is from available from Mandy Haigh on Tel: 0113 243 9477 or email: manager@leep1.co.uk   

Manningham Housing Association CEO awarded “Hero” status

Manningham Housing Association (MHA) chief executive Lee Bloomfield has been named as Mentor of the Year at the prestigious Housing Heroes awards.  

Organised by leading trade publication Inside Housing in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the national awards recognise the commitment, passion and hard work of the unsung heroes of the UK housing sector.

Lee Bloomfield

Lee Bloomfield

The ceremony was held as a curtain raiser to Housing 2019, the CIH’s annual conference which was addressed by Theresa May in one her final speeches as Prime Minister.

Mr Bloomfield was recognised for his achievements as a mentor on the Housing Diversity Network’s Board Excellence Programme. 

Taf Sharif, a board member at the Stockport-based Equity Housing Group, was someone who benefited from the MHA chief executive’s guidance.

She said:  “Lee’s housing knowledge, support and words of encouragement have been invaluable in shaping and improving my role as a board member at Equity Housing.

“He has guided me throughout the year providing practical support and tangible actions for me to put into practice.  This has enabled me to perform more conscientiously and effectively, adding value to the board as a whole.  

“Lee has been approachable and has made a positive difference to instilling confidence and assertiveness to a young, female, minority ethnic non-executive director in the housing sector, such as myself.”

Rebecca Asady, also a board member at Equity Housing Group, was equally keen to praise Mr Bloomfield’s work.

She said: “I was lucky to have Lee assigned as my mentor. He has been generous with both his time and expertise, guiding me in a supportive and professional manner even after the formal mentorship programme ended.

“Lee's exemplary values inform his advice and this provides real assurance in approaching new situations as a board member."

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings, chair of the MHA board, said he was delighted for Mr Bloomfield.

He commented: “This is more excellent news for Manningham Housing Association after recently being shortlisted for four other national housing awards, winning a Northern Housing Award and becoming the first association in the country to be officially accredited for our work in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.   

“Since he joined MHA in January 2018, Lee has skillfully steered the association through a change programme which has significantly improved the quality of everything we do. 

“Using his knowledge and experience to improve the performance of others outside MHA is typical of him, and it is wonderful to hear the compliments he has received from Taf and Rebecca. 

“I certainly regard Lee as a housing hero.  It’s wonderful that this status has been made official.”     

Mr Bloomfield, who spent almost four years as chief executive of the Leeds Jewish Housing Association before joining MHA, said he was humbled by winning the award.

He continued: “I am obviously very pleased to win, but knowing that I have been able to positively impact the work of colleagues in the housing association sector is even more satisfying.

“It is never a chore to mentor others.  I have received excellent advice from many very knowledgeable professionals throughout my career and it is great be able to pass this on whenever possible.

“Being part of the Housing Diversity Network’s Board Excellence Programme is a privilege and an education in itself.   I would like to thank the MHA board for enabling me to be involved.”   

With an annual turnover of £8.5 million and a staff of 32, MHA manages more than 1,400 homes for families, the elderly and those in need in Bradford and Keighley. 

Another win for Manningham Housing Association

Manningham Housing Association (MHA) has received further high-profile recognition after triumphing in the Best Digital Transformation category at the Northern Housing Awards. 

The accolade came after a fundamental review of the Bradford-based association’s gas safety compliance processes to make them more efficient and effective.  

This identified the need to invest in a new digital platform and move away from the existing manual system which was found to be time and cost intensive.

Having considered all available options, MHA teamed up with pioneering technology firm Gas Tag with the aim of improving overall gas compliance and tenant safety.

Founded in 2015, Gas Tag has a growing number of landlords, housing associations and local authorities on its client list. 

John Green, Health and Safety Coordinator, Manningham Housing Association (second from right) with representatives of Gas Tag at the Northern Housing Awards (Credit: UKBE and Joe Gardner Photography)

John Green, Health and Safety Coordinator, Manningham Housing Association (second from right) with representatives of Gas Tag at the Northern Housing Awards (Credit: UKBE and Joe Gardner Photography)

Lee Bloomfield, Chief Executive of Manningham Housing Association spoke of his immense pleasure at winning the prestigious Northern Housing Award.

Lee Bloomfield

Lee Bloomfield

He said: "I’m thrilled for all involved, but especially our tenants who have benefited from the upgrade. 

“Relatively small housing associations such as MHA have limited resources but are rightly required to meet our compliance obligations in full.  

“The award is a testament to the hard work and innovative approach we’ve taken to enhancing our processes, including in relation to gas compliance.   

“Gas Tag has been key to raising quality and, indeed, exceeding the expectations of the regulator.  

“Our story should give other associations confidence that there are complementary solutions in the market which can improve energy use and safety."

Gas Tag has won several accolades in its short history including the Lloyds Bank National Business Award for New Business of the Year in 2018.

Peter Luke, Commercial Director of Gas Tag, said he was particularly proud of the company’s part in winning the Northern Housing Award with MHA as it demonstrated the positive impact the technology offered to housing associations and their customers.

He continued: "As part of the implementation of Gas Tag, we worked with Manningham Housing Association to understand their current business practices around gas compliance.

“We then implemented a business process re-engineering approach which determined that adopting Gas Tag could automate out cost from the process but also increase compliance. The seamless adoption of the application by the existing contractor shows strong teamwork.

“I’m glad these benefits were recognised by the judges."

With an annual turnover of £8.5 million and a staff of 32, MHA manages more than 1,400 homes for families, the elderly and those in need in Bradford and Keighley. 

Already this year, Manningham Housing Association has been shortlisted for five national awards, achieved the highest standard of customer service excellence and become the first housing association in the country to be officially accredited for its work in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.     

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings, Chair of the MHA Board, said: “I am thrilled that the association continues to blaze a trail in so many areas of service for our tenants.

“We exist to improve their lives and their communities.  That is our mission.

“The Northern Housing Award is just the latest evidence that we are making good decisions on their behalf.  Full credit to everyone who has contributed to the success.”         

Manningham Housing Association racks up achievements

Bradford-based Manningham Housing Association (MHA) is on a remarkable run of success after being shortlisted for five national awards, achieving the highest standard of customer service excellence and becoming the first housing association in the country to be officially accredited for its work in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.     

Locally, MHA has also been praised for its proactive partnership approach in responding to the issue of sexual exploitation of children and young people in the community.

Earlier this month, MHA board member Khalida Ashrafi won the Lifetime Achievement accolade at the prestigious Diversity in Housing Awards in Birmingham, organised by 24housing magazine,   

Khalida Ashrafi

Khalida Ashrafi

Mark Lawrence, 24housing Editor, said: “Khalida’s track record speaks for itself. The work she has done in various sectors to promote and better the lives of BME communities in the UK has been incredible. Judges praised her for not only making the case outside of the communities, but bringing those communities with her while making that case.

“A worthy winner and someone who epitomises what Lifetime Achievement is all about.”

The association was also shortlisted in both the Gender Equality and Leading BME Organisation categories, with MHA nominee Mohammed Tausif reaching the final stage for the Community Role Model Award.

MHA Chief Executive Lee Bloomfield has been shortlisted for Mentor of the Year at the 2019 Housing Heroes Awards.  The winners will be announced next month at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference in Manchester.

MHA recently received the Award for Customer Service Excellence from the Centre for Excellence and, in a national first for a housing association, been formally accredited for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion by the same organisation.

And MHA has been widely praised for its partnership work with West Yorkshire campaign group Together Against Grooming (TAG) which held a major conference in Bradford in April. 

The high-profile event included a keynote speech from the UK’s leading authority on sexual violence and exploitation, Dr Ella Cockbain, alongside several thought-provoking contributions from other experts from across the country. 

Lee Bloomfield

Lee Bloomfield

Lee Bloomfield, MHA Chief Executive, expressed his pleasure at the rapid progress the association was making after the Regulator of Social Housing announced in December that it had achieved the highest possible grading for financial viability, coupled with a compliant rating for its governance arrangements.

He said: “I’m delighted with the upward trajectory of our journey and I firmly believe that the best is yet to come.

“After a few challenging years, Manningham Housing Association now represents nothing less than excellence as the recognition we are receiving underlines.  That is testament to the vision and resolve of our Board, the commitment and energy of our staff, and the support and understanding of our residents and partners.

“I am particularly proud that the Centre for Excellence has chosen MHA to be the very first housing association in the country to be awarded accreditation for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. 

“Bradford district is renowned for its diversity and it is right that MHA has been recognised as a trailblazer in bringing people from numerous different backgrounds together.”  

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings

Barrington Billings, Chair of the MHA Board, said: “All of us have worked incredibly hard to sharpen the focus of the association and the Board has never been stronger. 

“The same can be said for our staff at all levels who are determined to succeed individually and collectively as a team.

“This is evidenced by the recent external successes including my colleague Khalida Ashrafi winning the Diversity in Housing Lifetime Achievement Award.  We are incredibly proud of her.           

“We have a number of exciting announcements coming up in the months ahead.  It is a wonderful time to be part of MHA.”   

With an annual turnover of £8.5 million and a staff of 32, MHA manages more than 1,400 homes for families, the elderly and those in need in Bradford and Keighley. 

Prominent vet calls on new PM to accept recommendation on access to foreign workers

A recommendation from the Government’s migration advisers to add vets to the Shortage Occupation List of professions given preferential access to high-skilled worker visas has been welcomed by one of the sector’s leading figures.   

But Jason Aldiss, Managing Director of Leeds-based veterinary services company Eville & Jones, has said that it is incumbent upon whoever replaces Theresa May as Prime Minister to accept the proposal from Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).  

Dr Jason Aldiss BEM, Managing Director, Eville & Jones

Dr Jason Aldiss BEM, Managing Director, Eville & Jones

In a long-awaited report published earlier today, the MAC recommended that migration rules should be relaxed for a range of occupations including vets, web designers, psychologists and architects.     

Dr Aldiss said: “It has been a long road to reach this point but I am pleased that the MAC has finally seen sense.

“Their report confirms the stark reality that, in the meat hygiene sector, around 95 per cent of the veterinary workforce in this country graduated overseas, with a clear majority of them coming from the EU.  It adds that working in UK slaughterhouses is not generally considered attractive to British veterinarians.  That is why it is absolutely essential to have unfettered access to foreign vets.

“Those candidates standing to become Leader of the Conservative Party and our next Prime Minister must make clear that they will accept the recommendation to add veterinary professionals to the Shortage Occupation List.”  

Dr Aldiss, who also serves as Secretary General of the Union of European Veterinary Hygienists, added: “I note that, in his explanatory comments, MAC Chairman Professor Alan Manning states that all recommendations outlined in the report are only applicable under the current immigration system which incorporates EU free movement. 

“Should Brexit happen and free movement ends, the UK in general and the veterinary, meat processing and agricultural sectors in particular will suddenly find ourselves in even more perilous positions than at present.

“With the UK due to leave the EU on 31 October, we need further assurances from the leadership candidates on what the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system will look like under the Government they lead and that it will include full access to the overseas veterinary professionals our country desperately needs.”

Leeds MP celebrates opening of new Armley affordable housing scheme

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has joined Unity Homes and Enterprise representatives, residents, ward councillors and project partners to mark the official opening of the association’s £2 million affordable housing development in her constituency.      

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves receives flowers from Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava, alongside (from left to right) Councillor Alice Smart, Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor and Councillor Lou Cunningham

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves receives flowers from Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava, alongside (from left to right) Councillor Alice Smart, Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor and Councillor Lou Cunningham

The Armley Ridge Road scheme of six houses and eight flats is located on the site of the former Ancester public house which had fallen derelict.

Supported with a loan from Charity Bank and grant funding of £420,000 from Homes England, Unity purchased the ground lease from Leeds City Council in September 2017 to build affordable homes for rent.

Ms Reeves – who chairs the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee - visited the construction site last spring to review progress and meet students from Leeds Beckett University’s School of Built Environment and Engineering who were on a specially-arranged study trip.

Returning to see the completed development and meet residents, the Leeds West MP said she was deeply impressed by the quality of the homes.

Ms Reeves said: “This scheme is absolutely fantastic for the people of Armley.  We are in huge need of affordable homes in this area, but also of affordable homes of a such high calibre. 

“So many of the private lettings in our community are sadly not of a decent standard.  That’s why there has been such demand for properties like these. 

“14 families who previously didn’t have this sort of housing are now adequately housed. Not just with the great quality housing, but with a security of tenure that they probably didn’t have before. It’s terrific to have them here. 

“It’s a great place to live - really accessible for jobs in the city centre as well as the shops and amenities in Armley and Kirkstall.               

“I’d like to commend Unity, Homes England and Leeds City Council for their foresight to invest in this development and get it to where we are today.” 

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise Chief Executive, said: “It is always satisfying to see a major Unity project come to fruition and we are delighted to welcome Rachel back to see the completed work. 

“The 14 homes, which differ in scale from one-bed flats to three-bed houses, are first-class and stand proudly in a bustling part of the city with which we are very familiar.

“The scheme will provide another boost to Armley and is very much in line with our mission to assist in the revitalisation of local communities through the provision of high-quality affordable homes, stimulate social and economic regeneration, improve life opportunities and address inequalities within sustainable neighbourhoods

“As part of Unity’s commitment to local labour, we engaged with the contractors, Esh Construction Ltd, to secure employment for three local people on the site.  

“Looking ahead, we are about halfway through a large development programme of 220 properties in Leeds and surrounding areas.  Our work continues apace.”    

New resident Rachael Donoughue, who moved into a three-bed property with her young family in March, invited Ms Reeves and Mr Akbor to have a look around.  And she said she was “unbelievably happy” with her new home.

Ms Donoughue continued: “I love it here and so do the kids.

“The Unity staff have been brilliant, just amazing. They assisted us no end and nothing was too much trouble.

“As well as arranging the move, Unity offered help to get me back into work and I have since got a new job.  I also recently passed my driving test. 

“Being able to settle so quickly and easily into our new home has made a huge difference to our lives.” 

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves (right) and Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor with resident Rachael Donoughue in her new home

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves (right) and Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor with resident Rachael Donoughue in her new home

Training 26 success story continues two decades on

A specialist IT and business skills training provider is increasing its capacity at Leeds Media Centre after a surge in demand for its services.

Training 26 offers classes and bespoke tutoring in Microsoft Office, Adobe, Sage and related IT packages, together with a comprehensive range of management and personal development courses for individuals and SMEs.

The company has now taken additional space at the Unity Enterprise-run facility and recruited a new member of staff.

Established in 1999, Training 26 was taken over almost two years ago by Mike Cunningham, a technical consultant with vast experience in IT, and Angela Jones who held a customer facing role in the property industry.

Since then, the pair have expanded the scope of courses on offer and, six months ago, became a Pearson VUE© Authorised Test Centre, allowing the firm to deliver computer-based exam delivery services for some of the biggest names in IT including Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, Oracle, HP, and VMware.  

Training 26 Office Manager Angela Jones with (from right to left) Unity Homes and Enterprise Chief Executive Chief Executive Ali Akbor, Training 26 Director Mike Cunningham and Unity Enterprise Manager Adrian Green at Leeds Media Centre

Training 26 Office Manager Angela Jones with (from right to left) Unity Homes and Enterprise Chief Executive Chief Executive Ali Akbor, Training 26 Director Mike Cunningham and Unity Enterprise Manager Adrian Green at Leeds Media Centre

Mike Cunningham, Training 26 Director, said:  “The move to Leeds Media Centre has worked incredibly well and we are happy to be taking more space in an excellent building.  We recently recruited our first apprentice who is already proving to be a great asset for Training 26.

“As a one-stop shop for IT and business training needs, we are able to source the best trainers available and have plans to add new courses in the months ahead.  Our clients enjoy the modern facilities at Leeds Media Centre where parking is plentiful and there is the option to open on Saturdays. 

“Whilst most of the businesses we cater for are based in the North, our reach is expanding nationally. These are exciting times and it’s good to be part of the Unity family.”                 

Harrogate-based greeting card creator Pigment Productions is one well-known employer whose staff have benefitted from courses delivered by Training 26.

Debbie Saltmarsh, General Manager at Pigment Productions, said: "We use Training 26 for their flexible, varied and great presentation-style training courses. We have had candidates attend courses at their offices and also more bespoke courses held in our offices, which makes for easier staff attendance.  They are extremely easy to work with and flexible to your requirements. We will definitely continue to use them for all of our future training requirements.”

Leeds Media Centre is one of three business locations in the city owned and managed by Unity Enterprise, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Unity Homes and Enterprise, which provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 employers including charitable groups.

Ali Akbor, Chief Executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: “Training 26 is a shining example of the first-class work going on across our business centres. 

“Unity’s ethos is based on improving people’s lives.  Social and economic regeneration are of equal importance to physical regeneration, thereby empowering local communities to help themselves.  Training 26 helps people – in the business, public and social sectors – to improve their skills, progress their careers and contribute to the development of their colleagues. 

“I am particularly pleased that, in common with other valued Unity Enterprise tenants, Training 26 has taken on a local apprentice.  It is terrific to have the company operating at the heart of Leeds Media Centre.”          

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise Manager, added: “Mike and Angela are a pleasure to deal with.  I have also spoken to a number of their clients as they come and go from Leeds Media Centre and have heard nothing but positive comments about Training 26.

“Mike and Angela’s absolute commitment to the task in hand is second to none.  They deserve every bit of success they get and I know that many more achievements lie ahead as they to expand their business offer.”      

More information about Unity Enterprise and its services is available from Adrian on Tel: 0113 242 5996 or email: adrian.green@unityha.co.uk