Aireborough prepares to welcome Scottish rugby juniors with family fun day

Aireborough RUFC will achieve another first this Sunday (21 May) when they celebrate the visit of four junior teams from Hillfoots RFC in Scotland with a family fun day at their Nunroyd Park home.

Proceedings will get under way at around 1020 with a parade of the players - headed by their national flags - and the singing of the Scottish and English anthems on the main pitch.

Aire’s Under 10s, Under 11s, Under 12s and Under 13s will then take on their Caledonian counterparts at 1030.

A number of novel activities have been arranged for the club’s other age groups including rugby rounders, rugby netball, kick tennis and rugby golf.

Afterwards, there will be a barbeque and live music in the clubhouse.

Hillfoots RFC has been playing rugby at its home ground of the Public Parks in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for 46 years. 

The 40-strong squad will travel down to Yorkshire on Friday evening before a full programme of leisure and team-building activities on Saturday, including a stop-off at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.  They will return to Scotland on Sunday afternoon.

BRAVEHEARTS: Members of the Hillfoots RFC junior touring party who will take on Aireborough RUFC at Nunroyd Park on Sunday morning

BRAVEHEARTS: Members of the Hillfoots RFC junior touring party who will take on Aireborough RUFC at Nunroyd Park on Sunday morning

Aire’s junior coaching coordinator Kris Brook said the club was honoured to be hosting a junior touring party for the very first time.

OVER HERE: Aireborough's junior coaching co-ordinator Kris Brook waits for the pass that never came

OVER HERE: Aireborough's junior coaching co-ordinator Kris Brook waits for the pass that never came

Kris continued: “We are proud of our ever-growing reputation as a family club and were honoured to host the United States national team at Nunroyd Park during the last Rugby World Cup.

“But we’ve never had the chance to welcome a touring club at junior level.

“I know that Hillfoots has an excellent sporting reputation and we want them to leave Yorkshire with positive memories of their visit to Aireborough.

“We have a bagpiper booked, trumpeters lined up and more sausages ordered than you could shake a cocktail stick at.

“It promises to be a memorable day and we want families and young people from across the local community to come along and get involved.”

UP YER KILT: Hillfoots junior convemor David 'Paddy' Sherrard blends in with the locals during a previous visit to Leeds

UP YER KILT: Hillfoots junior convemor David 'Paddy' Sherrard blends in with the locals during a previous visit to Leeds

Hillfoots RFC junior convenor David ‘Paddy’ Sherrard said that his young charges were looking forward to the journey south.   And he revealed that this would not be his first trip to Nunroyd Park.

Paddy said: “I stayed in Guiseley with a life-long friend Barry White, who I played rugby with at school.  I was visiting Leeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and I came along on the Sunday morning to watch Barry’s son Jamie train with Aireborough juniors before we went to the Scotland v USA match.  I was really impressed by the quality of coaching and the friendly feeling around the club.

“Hillfoots RFC is thrilled to be playing at Nunroyd Park and I know that Aireborough has already put a lot of effort into making our group feel at home.

“Rugby is a sport that creates life-long friendships and tours are all about nurturing that friendship and creating special moments for both sides.  I have no doubt that Hillfoots will head back to Scotland with memories to last a lifetime.”  

MORE BIG NAME EMPLOYERS SEEK STRONG CANDIDATE TURNOUT AT LEEDS DIGITAL JOB FAIR 3.0

Jet2.com & Jet2holidays, Morrisons, Callcredit and NHS Digital are the latest major employers to issue rallying calls for the best digital and tech talent to register for free to attend Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 on Friday 28 April.

They have joined other well-known companies due to exhibit - including Sky Betting & Gaming, Barclays, Crisp and Northcoders - in urging job seekers and tech professionals to take advantage of the vast array of jobs on offer at the First Direct Arena.

Johnathan Nicolson, IT & digital marketing recruiter at Jet2.com & Jet2holidays, said: “Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 was a great experience for us and we made a couple of hires on the back of the event. 

Johnathan Nicolson from Jet2.com and Jet2holidays takes a breather at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 last October

Johnathan Nicolson from Jet2.com and Jet2holidays takes a breather at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 last October

“With our continued success and new base launches over the past year, we are looking to recruit in our IT and digital teams, as well as on our IT Graduate Trainee programme.

“We are always looking to invest in the best and brightest talent across Yorkshire and beyond to support our ongoing growth, and we are confident that Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 will really help us achieve that.”

Brett Bennett, people manager – resourcing at Morrisons, said: “Our fresh digital thinking is driving a giant change programme that will make Morrisons a digitally focused retailer. And we’re reinventing our tech and opening up new opportunities from mobile first to the cloud.

“We’re making improvements across our diverse business. We’re revolutionising our online journeys and making our processes faster, simpler and smarter to provide the freshest of products and an even better experience to millions of customers and over 111,000 colleagues.

“We’re at the careers fair to look for fresh thinkers with all kinds of expertise to join us in a variety of digital roles. You don’t need retail experience if you can innovate and deliver change at pace.  Come and say hello to us at our stand.”

Vicky Hester, recruitment consultant at Callcredit, said: “After previous success at the Leeds Digital Job Fair, Callcredit again hopes to be able to meet top digital talent at this year’s event. 

“We will have a number of opportunities in our Product Development and IT Services teams that we can share with prospective candidates.

“We have previously placed people in to permanent roles from the Digital Job Fair and have successfully recruited graduates from the Fair in to our Software Engineering Graduate Scheme.

“We have found a real range of skills and levels of experience from those attending the job fair, which has been fantastic to promote all our opportunities to a wide audience.

“Callcredit is a fast-growing innovative company and we look forward to sharing our latest developments with attendees.”

Charlotte Goulding, strategic recruitment manager at NHS Digital, said: “Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 is a key date in our events calendar this year. We particularly enjoy this event as we get to speak with such a broad range of people all at different stages of their digital careers. 

“Here at NHS Digital, we’ve got some amazing jobs currently available in Leeds and the job fair gives us the opportunity to offer an insight into both what we do and why we do it to huge numbers of talented individuals.”

Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 is organised by Herd founder Amy De-Balsi with support from LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena.

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi, organiser of Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0  

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi, organiser of Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0  

Ms De-Balsi said: “Excitement is really building with almost 50 employers and many hundreds of candidates signed-up to attend the North’s premier digital and tech recruitment fair.

“The event will be staged in the main auditorium of the First Direct Arena so there is still capacity for more people who wish to advance their careers in digital and tech to register online free of charge.   

“But, with just days to go, time is running out.”

Anyone wishing to book their place or browse current vacancies available through Herd should visit www.herd.careers  

HISTORIC HUNSLET NOW HOME TO MODERN AFFORDABLE HOUSING SCHEME

An historic part of Leeds has received a boost with the completion of a new £1.2 million affordable housing project.

The Rocheford Court development in Hunslet includes nine houses – a mix of two and three-bedroomed properties – and two disabled-access bungalows. All 11 homes have now been leased to tenants.

The scheme was delivered by Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency and Leeds City Council.

Newly built houses in the Rocheford Court development

Newly built houses in the Rocheford Court development

It was officially opened by the Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, Cllr Richard Lewis, accompanied by Unity’s chief executive Ali Akbor, regeneration director Wayne Noteman, board members Naseer Ahmed and Shazia Khan, and new tenant Jonathan Griffiths.

Mr Griffiths kindly provided the group with a tour of the bungalow he has moved into with his wife Louise and daughter Chloe.

He is adapting well to changed life circumstances after a blood clot resulted in the amputation of his right leg less than a year ago.  

And Mr Griffiths had nothing but praise for his new home and the role Unity Homes and Enterprise played in ensuring it was suitable for his requirements.

He said: “Unity has been fantastic. 

“The layout of the property was excellent to begin with, making it easy for me to get around. However, Unity ensured that it incorporated a lowered kitchen sink, work top and hobs.  The bathroom has also been kitted out with a range of facilities which are equally accessible for me and able-bodied users.

“I want to be self-sufficient and not forced to rely on my wife and daughter.  Thanks to Unity, I have been given a great deal of independence back and feel much more useful.  They get things done.”   

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: “I am thrilled at the completion of such a high quality development and, in particular, by the bungalows.

“Unity is absolutely committed to serving the needs of our tenants, old and new.  We want to make their lives better. 

“We worked closely with Jonathan, social care professionals and other partners to equip the property to his specific circumstances.  We also arranged follow-up visits from Unity staff after Jonathan and his family had moved in. 

“Few other housing associations are building bungalows of this type and we are enormously proud to be increasing the number we have in our housing stock across Leeds.”

Cllr Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning at Leeds City Council, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Unity Homes and Enterprise to deliver this range of new affordable housing in Hunslet.

“The completed properties have been built to the highest standards and it is very impressive that they have already all been taken by new tenants.

“We are very pleased to support and partner with Unity in the important work that they do.”

Cllr Richard Lewis cuts the ribbon to officially open Rocheford Court, assisted (from left to right) by Unity chief executive Ali Akbor, resident Jonathan Griffiths, Unity board members Naseer Ahmed and Shazia Khan, and Unity regeneration director Wayne Noteman

Cllr Richard Lewis cuts the ribbon to officially open Rocheford Court, assisted (from left to right) by Unity chief executive Ali Akbor, resident Jonathan Griffiths, Unity board members Naseer Ahmed and Shazia Khan, and Unity regeneration director Wayne Noteman

JOB FAIR 3.0 SET TO BEGIN NEW CHAPTER OF LEEDS DIGITAL SUCCESS STORY

Barclays, Morrisons, Hitachi and Crisp are just some of the big name companies signed up to exhibit for the first time at Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 later this month with hundreds of digital and tech career opportunities on offer.

They will join other major employers including Sky Betting & Gaming, Jet2.com & Jet2holidays, NHS Digital and Northcoders, all confirmed to return to the First Direct Arena on Friday 28 April after successful appearances at the two previous events. 

More than 2,000 people and 46 companies attended Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 last October.  But all records are set to be broken with Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 a component part of the inaugural Leeds International Festival.

Richard Flint

Richard Flint

Sky Betting & Gaming chief executive Richard Flint speaks highly of the event’s positive impact.

He said: “Leeds Digital Jobs Fair is a great way for the city to showcase the range of amazing tech job opportunities that are available here.

“As the city continues to develop a reputation for its fast growing digital sector we believe the fair can help demonstrate just why it is such a great city to build a career in.

“We’re looking forward to highlighting some of the exciting roles we have from across Sky Betting & Gaming.”

In a major coup for organisers Herd, debut exhibitor Barclays will also arrive with an impressive range of jobs for the right candidates.

Julian Bucknall, head of people and engagement, Barclays UK Technology, said: “Technology is the key enabler for Barclays to create the best digital banking experience for our 24 million customers.

Julian Bucknall

Julian Bucknall

“At Barclays Technology Centre Radbroke in Knutsford, Cheshire we have changed the way we design and implement to ensure our customer needs are the driving focus.

“We have embraced open source technologies and we are evolving with the world of technology, but without putting ourselves at risk.

“We’re looking for all types of people with technology experience including developers, testers, cyber and security consultants, project managers and data analysts.”

There is a lot of excitement that Crisp, the renowned global authority on social media risk, will also make its first exhibitor appearance at the First Direct Arena. 

Adam Hildreth

Adam Hildreth

Adam Hildreth, the serial entrepreneur who established the Leeds-based company in 2005, said Crisp had exciting plans that it was keen to discuss.

He said: "Crisp protect thousands of the world’s big-name brands, and from our hub in Leeds we are leading the global fight against offensive, illegal and toxic content on social media.

“Over the next few years we will be investing millions in our machine learning development to better understand user generated content risks and hope to find the best minds in everything from mathematics and machine learning to UX and DevOps at Leeds Digital Jobs Fair 3.0.”

A hugely welcome returnee is Northcoders, the leading coding bootcamp and a staunch supporter of the first two Leeds Digital Job Fairs.

Chris Hill

Chris Hill

The firm’s co-founder Chris Hill said: “Northcoders have exhibited at all of the Leeds Herd events to date.

“Northcoders works with both businesses looking to hire software developers and individuals looking to learn to code.

“We have met many of our students and clients through Leeds Herd events and will continue to exhibit at them for years to come.”

Herd founder Amy De-Balsi, who has once again masterminded Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0, believes attendees will be treated to the most potent blend of exhibitors in the short history of the event. 

She said: “We set the bar very high when we staged the first Leeds Digital Job Fair and I am grateful to LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena for their continued support as we make final preparations for Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0.

“Our success is evidenced by the quality of exhibitors who keep coming back, as well as the many leading-edge businesses that will be joining us for the first time on 28 April.

“There are a limited number of exhibition spaces still available but time is clearly running short.

“Students, graduates and tech professionals seeking a career change are invited to book their tickets for free, as many hundreds have already done.

“I have no doubt that it will be a remarkable day with a vast array of opportunities for career advancement in digital and tech there for the taking.

“The Leeds digital and tech success story is being written at a remarkable pace.  Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 will start the next exhilarating chapter.”

Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi

Employers interested in claiming one of the few remaining exhibition spaces at the event can request further information by emailing amy@herd.careers

Students or job seekers wanting to book their place or find out about current vacancies available through Herd can register online at www.herd.careers  

NEW ENTERPRISE FOR UNITY WITH LAUNCH OF REVAMPED WEBSITE

The enterprise arm of one of the North’s leading BME-led housing associations has launched a new website following a major upgrade of its facilities.

The new Unity Enterprise website which was launched today

The new Unity Enterprise website which was launched today

Unity Enterprise was set up in 2000 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leeds-based Unity Homes and Enterprise.

A not-for-profit organisation, Unity Enterprise currently provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 local businesses, social enterprises and third sector organisations across three locations close to the city centre.

Two of the sites - Unity Business Centre and Chapeltown Enterprise Centre - recently benefitted from a £1.4 million refurbishment programme.

The third – Leeds Media Centre – is home to Made in Leeds TV, alongside a range of independent media and music companies, education providers and community projects.

Ali Akbor

Ali Akbor

The new Unity Enterprise website features an array of professional photographs illustrating the full range of amenities and services available for lease or hire. These include office suites, shop units, meeting rooms and conference facilities.  

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive, said: “Unity Enterprise was created to support local entrepreneurial activity, invest in social and economic regeneration, and improve the economic wellbeing of the communities we serve.

“It is doing a tremendous job in achieving these objectives.

“One of the secrets of Unity’s success since we were first established as a housing association 30 years ago is an ability to evolve and move with the times.

“Having a first class website is crucial, especially when operating in an increasingly competitive business environment.

“The Unity Enterprise site impressively fulfils that need.”   

Adrian Green

Adrian Green

The website redevelopment was overseen by Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green.

He commented: “The new site is modern and accessible which accurately reflects our ethos.

“We are incredibly proud of the enhanced facilities now on offer.  Last year, Unity Enterprise generated a financial surplus which will help us to fund further improvements and support Unity’s wider work in providing high quality affordable housing.”

The website can be accessed at www.unityenterprise.co.uk  

Companies 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 

LEEDS DIGITAL JOB FAIR 3.0 ‘TO BE BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER’

Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 is set to eclipse previous attendance records when employers and tech professionals come together again at the First Direct Arena on Friday 28 April. 

Hundreds of career opportunities were on offer last October when 46 exhibitors and more than 2,000 people flocked through the doors of the landmark city centre venue for Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0.

A packed First Direct Arena at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

A packed First Direct Arena at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

In a major boost for organisers Herd, next month’s event will form part of the inaugural Leeds International Festival which runs from 22-30 April with a focus on three main strands: music, moving image and technology.

Amy De-Balsi - founder of online jobs board Herd, which has put the event together with support from LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena - said she expects the gathering to be bigger and better than ever. 

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi with (right) Cllr Mohammed Rafique, executive member for employment, enterprise and opportunity, Leeds City Council at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi with (right) Cllr Mohammed Rafique, executive member for employment, enterprise and opportunity, Leeds City Council at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

Ms De-Balsi said: “The first two Leeds Digital Job Fairs were incredibly successful, but we must continue to push the boundaries to accurately reflect the dynamism of the city’s digital and tech sector.  

“We expect more than 50 employers to be exhibiting on the day and we will be shortly be announcing some of the biggest names, each with a wide array of vacancies to be filled. 

“With more than five weeks to go, the number of registered attendees is also well ahead of where we have been at this stage before previous events.

“Being part of the first ever Leeds International Festival is a huge seal of approval for us and a recognition of the important role the Leeds Digital Job Fair now plays.”

Andrew Cooper, chairman of Leeds International Festival and LeedsBID chief executive, said: “The Leeds International Festival showcases the city’s wide cultural offer of music, moving image and technology. The Leeds Digital Jobs Fair is an integral part of the promotion of a city which is at the forefront of the skills agenda in the tech, creative and digital sectors.

Andrew Cooper, chairman of Leeds International Festival and LeedsBID chief executive

Andrew Cooper, chairman of Leeds International Festival and LeedsBID chief executive

“LeedsBID’s continual support of the digital jobs fair is reflective of its growing status in the city’s annual events calendar and the range of exciting opportunities on offer in Leeds for talented people in this sector.”

Employers interested in exhibiting at the event can request further information by emailing amy@herd.careers

Students or job seekers wanting to book their place or find out about current vacancies available through Herd should visit www.herd.careers  

Aireborough juniors prepare to take the Yorkshire rugby spirit to new pastures

A group of budding young rugby players from Leeds will journey across the Pennines next month on their first-ever rugby tour.

Aireborough RUFC Under 9s and Under 10s will play their age group counterparts at Heaton Moor RUFC in Stockport on Sunday 23 April, in what will be their final competitive outings of the season.

Accompanied by their parents, the boys will make the trip from Nunroyd Park to Cheshire the previous day and spend the afternoon at Gulliver’s World theme park in Warrington before staying overnight at Terra Nova School close to the world famous Jodrell Bank Observatory.     

Past pupils of Terra Nova School include former England rugby union captain Will Carling and Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history with four gold medals.   

Rory Whitehead from Aireborough Under 10s taking the battle to near neighbours Otley  

Rory Whitehead from Aireborough Under 10s taking the battle to near neighbours Otley  

The venture is the brainchild of Aire’s Under 10s coach Matt Barratt.

He said:  “More than 50 of us will be going on tour including 25 players, and all costs are being met by the parents themselves.   

“However, whilst the boys will be properly kitted out for their matches on the Sunday, we would be very keen for them to all look the same when we’re out and about on the Saturday, arrive at the ground the following day and attend the post-match meal.   

“There is an ideal opportunity for a sponsor to provide support for us to purchase hoodies for the players with their company name and logo included in the design, together with Aireborough’s club badge. If someone would like to help, we’d be very happy to hear from them.”

Aireborough Under 9s at Nunroyd Park after last weekend’s game against Keighley

Aireborough Under 9s at Nunroyd Park after last weekend’s game against Keighley

Kris Brook, who as well as serving as the club’s coaching coordinator and Under 9s head coach also plays for Aire’s senior first fifteen, added:  “The boys are really excited about the trip and their performances on the field have visibly gone up a level since the tour was confirmed.

“But at Aireborough, playing the game to the best of your ability is only part of the experience.  We never stop reminding our players at all levels that rugby is also about friendship, respect and enjoyment.      

“We are immensely proud of them all and I have no doubt that the Under 9s and Under 10s will be prove to be first class ambassadors for the club and, indeed, for Yorkshire rugby.”  

Anyone interested in sponsoring players’ hoodies should contact Kris Brook on Tel: 07702 130596.

BIG HOUSING DEVELOPMENT IN LITTLE LONDON

A previously run-down part of Little London in north Leeds has been regenerated with the completion of a new £1.8 million affordable homes development.

Delivered by Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency and Leeds City Council, Holborn Court comprises 15 flats and two wheelchair accessible bungalows.

Part of Unity’s new Holborn Court development in Little London, north Leeds

Part of Unity’s new Holborn Court development in Little London, north Leeds

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

The new properties have been constructed with red masonry to replicate buildings of similar character in the area.

Holborn Court is sited adjacent to a number of local amenities including a supermarket, and is a short walk or bus ride away from Leeds city centre.

All 17 properties have now been leased to tenants.

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said he was excited by the completion of the project.      

He said: “Little London is an area Unity is very familiar with as we already manage a number of other properties locally. 

“The Holborn Court site had been lying empty for several years and we welcomed the opportunity to bring it back into use through the 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme.

“The flats, built in three separate blocks, are of the highest quality and the feedback received from tenants has been incredibly positive.

“We are especially proud of the bungalows which have been specifically designed for people who find it difficult to get around. Very few housing associations are directing resources to this type of property and I’m delighted that Unity is leading the way.

“Our core objective is to deliver first class affordable homes for the neighbourhoods and tenants we proudly serve.

“With a number of other Unity developments nearing completion, Holborn Court is further evidence of our success.”        

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (right) with tenant Ian Bailey at the new Holborn Court development

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor (right) with tenant Ian Bailey at the new Holborn Court development

Ian Bailey is a former soldier who served with the British Army for more than 10 years in various parts of the world - including Canada, Kenya and Northern Ireland - before resettling in Leeds. 

He moved into his new flat in Holborn Court before Christmas and says he feels very much at home.

Mr Bailey said: “I’m over the moon.  There is plenty of space, including a big bathroom and kitchen, and there’s room for my son to come and stay.  But because of the super insulation in the loft, the flat stays warm.

“I do some voluntary work for the Royal British Legion, who have helped me to carpet the property and buy a fridge freezer.

“However, I am particularly grateful to Unity staff for the support they have given me right from the start of the bidding process. They’ve been brilliant.

“Organisations such as Unity work hard to make a real difference to people’s lives.  I’m very happy.”             

Holborn Court tenant Ian Bailey (right) chats to Unity chief executive Ali Akbor in the living room of his new property in Little London

Holborn Court tenant Ian Bailey (right) chats to Unity chief executive Ali Akbor in the living room of his new property in Little London

HUGE SUM RAISED TO TACKLE DEMENTIA AS THE FIX REFORMS FOR NIGHT OF NOSTALGIA

A remarkable £2,389.65 was raised when Portrush band The Fix reformed after 25 years to play a special Christmas comeback show in aid of Alzheimer's Research UK.

Rolling back time: From right to left – Jonny Lennox, Peter Jameson, and Paul Beattie performing as The Fix after 25 years away

Rolling back time: From right to left – Jonny Lennox, Peter Jameson, and Paul Beattie performing as The Fix after 25 years away

The three-piece rock outfit performed to a full house at Kiwi’s Brew Bar in the town where a combination of raffle proceeds, online donations and contributions from music fans keen for their Fix of nostalgia resulted in a huge final total.

It was a quarter of a century since singer and guitarist Jonny Lennox and bassist Paul Beattie last played a full set together after a run of memorable performances in the late 1980s and early 1990s at Kelly’s Portrush.  

They were joined for their return gig by new member Peter Jameson on drums and percussion.

Yesterday Jonny returned to Kiwi’s Brew Bar to display a cheque for the final total, assisted by the bar’s owner Kris Charteris.

Job done: Jonny Lennox (left), frontman of The Fix, and Kris Charteris, owner of Kiwi’s Brew Bar, display a cheque for Alzheimer’s Research UK following the band’s 25-year charity reunion night

Job done: Jonny Lennox (left), frontman of The Fix, and Kris Charteris, owner of Kiwi’s Brew Bar, display a cheque for Alzheimer’s Research UK following the band’s 25-year charity reunion night

Hannah Reynolds, Community and Sporting Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are delighted that The Fix reunited after 25 years especially for a Christmas gig in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“They raised nearly £2,400 which is incredible and we are so grateful to everyone who helped make it happen and those who generously donated.

“Supporters like The Fix help us in our quest to find effective treatments and preventions for dementia, a condition which more than 20,000 people are living with in Northern Ireland.”

Jonny Lennox, frontman of The Fix, said: “It was a wonderful night and we are indebted to everyone who helped to make it happen.

“In particular, I want to thank the many businesses that provided raffle prizes, Kris for providing the venue and, of course, everyone who turned up on the night or who made donations to our JustGiving page. 

“We have kept this open at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Alzheimer-raffle-Portrush for anyone who wants to make a late contribution.

“There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, including many people who had travelled from various parts of the world to be home for Christmas.  I hope they enjoyed the night as much as we did.

“Most importantly, it was fantastic to raise so much money to assist in the battle against dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK do great work and we are proud to have done our little bit to help them.”     

Kris Charteris, owner of Kiwi’s Brew Bar, said: “It was a fabulous occasion and a privilege to host it.

“I know the boys put in countless hours of rehearsals to ensure they were able to rekindle the old magic.  The audience’s reaction demonstrated that all the effort was worth it together, of course, with the incredible amount of money the gig raised.

“Having relocated their guitars after 25 years, I hope they now keep them out for a while longer and we get to see them again.  They have an open invitation to perform at Kiwi’s Brew Bar anytime they want.”

Leeds housing association looks forward to 30th anniversary

The chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has spoken of his pride at the organisation’s achievements and future plans as it prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary later this year.

Unity was set-up as a community housing association in 1987 to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds.  The initial focus was on Chapeltown, where it continues to have its headquarters. But its activities have since widened to other areas of the city including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck and Chapel Allerton. 

Its extensive work now includes supporting local entrepreneurial activity through Unity Enterprise, a subsidiary company, and helping local people to access jobs and training with assistance from Unity Employment Services.

“It is useful for organisations like Unity to step back from time to time to reflect on the journey we have made and our achievements,” said Ali Akbor, who also marks 18 years as the association’s chief executive this month.

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive  

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive  

“When I joined Unity, we managed fewer than 700 homes.  We now have responsibility for more than 1,200 properties with advanced plans to increase that number by up to 200 before the end of the decade.  This includes the official opening of 26 new properties in Leeds – at Hunslet and Little London – in the coming weeks.”   

But Mr Akbor was keen to stress that working with partners, including Leeds City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, to meet housing need was just one element of Unity’s drive to regenerate local communities.

“We are fiercely ambitious on behalf of the people and neighbourhoods we serve,” he explained. 

“Economic, social and physical regeneration go hand in hand.   Building high quality affordable homes is obviously fundamental to everything we do.  But so too is being proactive in stimulating local business activity and helping our tenants into jobs.        

“Unity Enterprise now provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 local businesses in three centres close to Leeds city centre.  And last year we helped 77 people to find work, 120 to access accredited skills training and 15 to gain work placements.”  

Looking ahead, Mr Akbor said he believed the work of BME-led organisations such as Unity Homes and Enterprise was more important in 2017 than for many years.  

“I am immensely proud that our tenants now come from all communities and ethnic backgrounds, but we have not forgotten our roots,” he continued.

“As we look back over the three decades of Unity’s existence, we must acknowledge the advances this country has made on equality and diversity.  We’ve been progressive in comparison with many other nations.  But to maintain that lead, these issues must return to the top of the policy agenda where they haven’t been of late. 

“The United Kingdom faces new challenges which have been exacerbated in the wake of the EU referendum. We’ve read headlines about a divided nation. We’ve witnessed an increase in anti-immigration views.  Cohesion has been challenged in some areas including an increase in hate crime. 

“Community housing associations like ours do make a difference, and we hope to make that difference for many years to come.” 

CHAPELTOWN COUGARS SHOW UNITY IN NEW KIT

Leeds housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has presented Chapeltown Cougars rugby league under 9s with new branded hoodies to keep them warm as winter arrives.

The specially-commissioned clothing was handed over to Cougars founder and head coach Steve Walker by Unity’s chief executive Ali Akbor and director of regeneration Wayne Noteman after a training session at the Mandela Community Centre.

They were joined by Ronnie the Rhino representing the Leeds Rhinos Foundation which supports Chapeltown Cougars through the Leeds Rhinos Club Ambassadors Scheme. 

Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor (left) and director of regeneration Wayne Noteman (right) present Chapeltown Cougars head coach Steve Walker with a new hoodie, watched by Ronnie the Rhino

Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor (left) and director of regeneration Wayne Noteman (right) present Chapeltown Cougars head coach Steve Walker with a new hoodie, watched by Ronnie the Rhino

The Cougars were established in 2011 with the club now open to boys and girls from five years old. 

Players are drawn from the local community in Chapeltown and surrounding areas including Chapel Allerton, Moortown, Oakwood and Harehills.

They train under the guidance of qualified coaches on Wednesday evenings and play games in the Yorkshire Junior Amateur Rugby League on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive, said: “Unity is proud to be based in Chapeltown and, when asked to assist the Cougars, were only too happy to oblige.

“Our ethos is centred on creating sustainable communities made up of people of all ethnic backgrounds and ages. 

“There is no better way to bring young people together than through sport and, in their short history, Chapeltown Cougars have been remarkably successful in doing this.  

“We are delighted to be associated with the club and have Unity’s name displayed on the smart new kit.”

Steve Walker, Chapeltown Cougars founder and head coach, said: “The club is fortunate to live in a community where people are happy to do their bit to help us.

“This includes our volunteers, who give up their time so freely, and our sponsors who support us in other ways.

“We are thrilled that Unity has provided our under 9s with their new hoodies, which look great. 

“Other sponsorship opportunities are available for anyone else interested in getting involved with the Cougars.”         

Sam Horner, Leeds Rhinos Foundation amateur club development officer, said: “Chapeltown Cougars might not be the biggest junior rugby league club in Leeds, but it is one of the best.

“The coaches, players and volunteers are on a journey and it is privilege for the Leeds Rhinos Foundation to play an active part.   

“I have worked closely with Steve to help the club develop and I promote it wherever I go.   

“I am delighted they are getting strong support from the local community and I congratulate Unity Homes and Enterprise for stepping forward to help.”

Anyone wanting more information about Chapeltown Cougars or to come along to a training session should contact Avril Sanderson on Tel: 07708 000035.

LEEDS DIGITAL JOB FAIR 2.0 ‘A GREAT SUCCESS’

Employers have hailed the success of last week’s Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 which attracted more than 2,000 people through the doors of the city’s iconic First Direct Arena.

46 exhibitors from the public and private sectors had stands at the event organised by online jobs board Herd to showcase hundreds of wide-ranging career opportunities in the region’s digital and tech sector.

And the response has been hugely positive.  

Johnathan Nicolson grabbing a quick rest at the busy Jet2.com and Jet2holidays stand

Johnathan Nicolson grabbing a quick rest at the busy Jet2.com and Jet2holidays stand

Johnathan Nicolson, IT Recruiter, Jet2.com & Jet2holidays, said: “We loved it. We enjoyed meeting with some really passionate digital and technology professionals and talking to them about how technology underpins all the success we’ve had at Jet2.com and Jet2holidays. Our IT and Digital Team is made up of colleagues who are highly skilled and passionate about technology who deliver market leading customer experiences and hopefully some of the Herd attendees will be applying to join us soon.”

Vicky Hester, Recruitment Consultant, Callcredit, said: “The Leeds Digital Job Fair was a great success with some strong company brands attending.   The venue and layout of the event created a real buzz.  We made contact with some fantastic candidates at all levels of experience and hope to be able to make some placements for our current vacancies as well as having good contacts to keep in touch with for future opportunities at Callcredit.”

Gus Thompson, Recruitment Manager, Plusnet, said: "Plusnet was proud to be a part of the Herd digital event in Leeds. What a fantastic opportunity to network with industry professionals and meet the next generation of talent in the Yorkshire tech and digital community.  We look forward to next year’s event."

Matt Fisher, Technical Lead, Dubit, said: "We were really impressed with the variety of people, talent and experience available at Leeds Digital Job Fair. We ended up speaking to some really interesting people, and came away with loads more opportunities than we'd considered at the start."

Charlotte Goulding, Recruitment Manager, NHS Digital, said: “I’m delighted that NHS Digital was part of the Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0.  It was the busiest job fair that we have been to so far this year and we spoke with loads of people all passionate about progressing their digital career in Leeds.  The fair attracted people at all stages of their careers and we spoke to people about apprenticeships, our graduate scheme and opportunities for experienced professionals.  We’re looking forward to keeping the conversation going with the nearly 200 people who signed up to hear more about working with us.”

Amy De-Balsi from Herd – which put the event together with support from LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and First Direct Arena – said she was thrilled by the feedback. 

She commented: “By common consent, the first Leeds Job Digital Fair in February set a new standard for technology recruitment events in the North.   But we wanted to surpass this and, by moving everyone into the huge main auditorium and providing a larger area for employers and candidates to interact, we achieved our objective. There were more exhibitors, more candidates and more jobs available.  We couldn’t be more pleased.”

Amy De-Balsi (centre) from Herd, organisers of Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

Amy De-Balsi (centre) from Herd, organisers of Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

And Ms De-Balsi revealed that Leeds Digital Job Fair 3.0 would take place at the First Direct Arena on Friday 28 April 2017.

She said: “Such was the interest from potential new exhibitors in the run up to last week’s event that we thought it best to set a date for the next one.  And our confidence has already been justified with a number of them, having attended in an observer capacity, now committed to taking a stand in April.     

“The thriving Leeds digital sector was once a well-kept secret but those days are long gone with the ever-growing talent pool standing as testament to this.

“Herd is proud to be playing a key role in bringing tech candidates and employers together.”    

Last day to sign-up for Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0

The is just 24 hours to go for interested candidates to join the more than 1,000 graduates and tech professionals who have already registered for free to attend Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 at the First Direct Arena tomorrow (Thursday 20 October).     

Jet2.com, Plusnet, Sky, Callcredit, Google, Sky Betting & Gaming, Lhasa and NHS Digital and are amongst almost 50 employers preparing to showcase hundreds of newly-created jobs and apprenticeships in the booming Leeds digital sector. 

One of a number of eye-catching debut exhibitors is Branded3, a renowned leader in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and recently crowned Best Large SEO Agency at the 2016 European Search Awards

Tim Grice

Tim Grice

Tim Grice, CEO of Branded3, said: “We consider Leeds to be the SEO capital of the country and home to some of the best and brightest in digital marketing.  

“As the biggest event of its kind in Leeds, we felt that the Leeds Digital Job Fair was the perfect way to reach out to those looking for new opportunities within digital marketing.”

Bradford-based FTSE 100 company Provident Financial is making a return visit following a successful appearance at the inaugural event in February.    

And Brett Bennett, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at Provident, had a message for candidates wishing to attend the gathering, which is expected to attract upwards of 2,000 people. 

“Yorkshire is where the heart of Provident has been based for over 130 years,” he said.  

Brett Bennett

Brett Bennett

“Over 1000 of our head office team work hard every day to support our branch network and customers across the UK and Ireland and we’re at the event so that you can meet some of our technology team, chat to them about what it’s like to be a part of our amazing business as well as see what opportunities we may have for you. 

“Could you help shape the future of our business?  Come and say hello!”

Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 has been put together by online jobs board Herd with backing from LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and hosts First Direct Arena. 

Herd’s founder, Amy De-Balsi, said she was thrilled by the response the event had attracted.  And she was confident that this would be translated into positive results for exhibitors and attendees on the day.

Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi

“We’ve assembled an amazing array of top level employers, each with a wide choice of roles available to be filled,” said Amy.

“Developers, designers, product managers, analysts, digital marketers, IT specialists, engineers, account managers – the list goes on and on.

“And there will also be a choice of seminars, masterclasses and networking opportunities with leading lights in digital and tech.  But you’ve got to be in it to win it.

“I appeal to people seeking to progress in the sector to sign-up and get themselves along on Thursday to see what all the fuss is about.  They won’t be disappointed.” 

Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 is at the First Direct Arena this Thursday (20 October) from noon until 4pm. 

Candidates can book their places free of charge at www.herd.careers  

LEEDS DIGITAL JOB FAIR 2.0 SET TO ‘RAISE THE BAR’

Almost 50 exhibitors have now signed up to showcase their vast array of exciting digital and tech career opportunities at Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 on Thursday 20 October.

Lhasa Limited, Sky, Sky Betting & Gaming, Callcredit and Google are just some of the major companies returning to the First Direct Arena following the success of the inaugural event in February.

And they will be joined by a significant number of other established employers making their first appearance at what is already regarded as one of the country’s premier digital and tech recruitment forums.

It is again being organised by Amy De-Balsi, the founder of online jobs board Herd, with support from LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena. 

John Lettice

John Lettice

John Lettice, software development manager at Lhasa Limited, said: “Lhasa Limited is attending the Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 with the aim of increasing the recognition of Lhasa as an excellent place to work.

“After a rewarding visit in February, which resulted in over 100 enquiries from skilled candidates, we wish to recreate this success again.

“We are thrilled to be exhibiting alongside such well-known businesses, and hope to attract top talent to join our ever-growing team.”

One of the firms making their debut at the event is Pitchero, the Leeds-based sports website platform.

John Milson

John Milson

Jon Milsom, Pitchero’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said: "As the biggest online sports network in the UK, we are constantly looking for ways in which we can grow and improve our business and we see our amazing team as key to that.

“We are currently looking to expand our teams across three core areas - development, marketing and customer success - and we see the Digital Job Fair as a great way to meet some potentially awesome candidates.

“We have big plans for growth both nationally and internationally so we’re hoping to meet some potential future team members who will be able to contribute to our ongoing success.”

Another new exhibitor is DevAcademy, an IT training and resource provider headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne, which offers free six-week training courses in software development in Leeds and Bradford. The next one starts at Bradford College next month.

And Rachel Peacock, DevAcademy’s managing director, had a message for local candidates interested in signing up.

Rachel Peacock

Rachel Peacock

She said: “DevAcademy are currently recruiting for trainee and junior developers, testers and support roles.

“If you want to kick start your career in technology, then come and have a chat with us at the Fair.”

Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi

Herd’s Amy De-Balsi said Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 was on well on-course to “raise the bar” following the success of its predecessor.

She commented: “We had 1,300 attendees and 35 digital and tech companies in February.  I would expect around 2,000 people through the doors of the First Direct Arena next week with almost 50 exhibitors now on board.

“The first Leeds Digital Job Fair was put together from scratch and, by common consent, set an incredibly high standard for future events.  But I believe we will raise the bar this time as we continue on the crusade to fill the digital and tech vacancies constantly being created in the Leeds city region.”

And Ms De-Balsi urged graduates and tech professionals to sign-up for free to attend Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0.

She said: “There are some wonderful career opportunities available and I would encourage anyone seeking a new challenge to register online without delay.  It could prove to be a life-changing decision.” 

Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 will take place at the First Direct Arena on Thursday 20 October from noon until 4pm. 

Employers still wishing to exhibit can request further information by emailing amy@herd.careers

Candidates wanting to register to book their place at the event or find out about current digital and tech vacancies on offer from Herd should visit www.herd.careers  

VANBAR associates join the pack at Nunroyd Park

VANBAR associates is delighted to be one of a growing number of local companies to sponsor a player for the 2016-17 season at Yorkshire Division 3 table-toppers Aireborough RUFC. 

Kris Brook, who deservedly lifted the 'Player of the Year' and 'Clubman of the Year' trophies at the end of last season, in our view represents all that is good about rugby union in general and 'Aire' in particular.

As well as his own training and playing commitments with the 1st XV, Kris also serves as Coaching Coordinator with the club's junior section, the Aireborough Lions, and even finds the time to be Head Coach with the Under 9s.  

Unbeaten in September with four wins from four games, Aire go into Saturday's home encounter with Castleford determined to consolidate their lofty league position with a bonus point victory. 

The club has designated this Saturday as a Sponsors Day with a buffet and pre-game drinks in the clubhouse, followed by the game which kicks-off at 3pm.  

The 1st XV will also be wearing their brand new kit and, afterwards, there will be presentations and a chance to mingle with the players and other sponsors.

If you are interested in sponsoring the club or a player, Nick Jackson would be delighted to hear from you.  His email address is nickjackson0@hotmail.co.uk

We hope to see you at Nunroyd Park on Saturday and, with a bit of decent ball, maybe Kris will treat the big crowd to one or two of these.  

COUNTDOWN UNDERWAY TO LEEDS DIGITAL JOB FAIR 2.0

Just a few exhibitor spaces remain for Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 at the First Direct Arena on Thursday 20 October.  

The inaugural event in February - the first ever job fair to be staged at the award-winning venue - attracted more than 1,300 attendees and 35 digital and tech companies.

And with numbers expected to be significantly higher next month, the decision has been taken to move proceedings into the main auditorium itself.    

Callcredit, Sky Bet, Google, Lhasa, NHS Digital and Thompson Brand Partners are amongst the big name employers signed up for what is already regarded as one of the most significant gatherings in the Leeds digital and tech calendar.

They will showcase hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships from graduate level through to experienced tech professionals.      

Amy De-Balsi

Amy De-Balsi

The event is being organised by Amy De-Balsi, the founder of online jobs board Herd, and is backed by LeedsBID, Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University and the First Direct Arena. 

Ms De-Balsi said: “Leeds city region now employs more than 70,000 people in digital and tech and we must continue to keep pace with the ever-growing number of exciting new vacancies being created by the sector. 

“Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0 will be even bigger and better than the inaugural event in February, which was a huge success.

“There will be more employers, more candidates and more expert speakers across an expanded programme of presentations and seminars.  We have also added a number of novel elements including the chance for candidates to get advice on their CV and network with business leaders in our chill out zones - complete with air hockey.  

“There are a handful of exhibitor slots remaining, but I would urge employers to snap these up without delay as we’re heading towards a complete sell-out.

“Graduates seeking to launch their careers in digital and tech, together with professionals seeking a new challenge, can still sign up to attend for free.”  

Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper

Andrew Cooper, LeedsBID Chief Executive said: “The Leeds Digital Job Fair is a major recruitment event, promoting Leeds as a city at the forefront of the skills agenda in both the tech and digital sectors.

“The digital world can provide a spectrum of exciting opportunities for talented young people and this event is about giving them the chance to explore the range of jobs on offer.”

Councillor James Lewis

Councillor James Lewis

Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Resources and Strategy, said: “We are delighted to support Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0, which will provide a fantastic opportunity for people to find out more about the opportunities that are available in our city.

“This fits in with one of the key aims of our recently launched ground-breaking Leeds Digital Skills Action Plan, which is taking a pro-active approach to give people the chance to discover and develop their confidence and talent in this fast-growing sector.”

Professor Chris Prince

Professor Chris Prince

Professor Chris Prince, Pro Vice Chancellor at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Leeds Beckett University, as one of the major providers of graduate talent in the region, is very pleased to be one of the major sponsors of Leeds Digital Job Fair 2.0. 

“The Fair provides our graduates with a platform to showcase their talent and to explore career opportunities open to them.  

“This important event also acts as a showcase for the digital sector and the growing impact it has on the economy of the city and region.”

Employers interested in taking a stand can request an exhibitor pack by emailing amy@herd.careers

Candidates wanting to register to attend the event or find out about current digital and tech vacancies accessible through Herd should visit www.herd.careers

'RESILIENT’ LEEDS HOUSING ASSOCIATION LOOKS TO THE FUTURE

The chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has told its Annual General Meeting that the organisation will “stay true to its mission of providing good quality housing, improving life opportunities and addressing inequalities,” as it prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

Speaking to a large audience in the Executive Suite at Headingley Cricket Ground, Ali Akbor said that Unity was resilient and had adapted skilfully to constant change over the last three decades.  And it was achieving ever-stronger results, despite the many challenges housing associations now face. 

Chief executive Ali Akbor address the Unity Homes and Enterprise AGM at Headingley Cricket Ground 

Chief executive Ali Akbor address the Unity Homes and Enterprise AGM at Headingley Cricket Ground 

“What we’re seeing from the Government, at long last, is a political recognition of the national housing shortage but very little in terms of policies and initiatives to address that adequately,” Mr Akbor said.  “And the focus recently changed to ownership as opposed to rented housing.” 

As part of the last Homes and Communities Agency programme which ended last year, Unity developed 80 new affordable properties.  And in the current programme which runs until 2018, Unity has been successful in its bid to build a further 120 units – the largest house-building programme in its history – with half of these already under construction.

“The two schemes we have opened this year - at Brown Lane East in Holbeck and Stratford Court in Chapel Allerton - have included shared ownership as well as rented accommodation,” Mr Akbor said.  “So we have a national focus and a local need, and I believe we are delivering on both levels.” 

The Unity chief executive stressed that, alongside new affordable homes, the organisation continued to bring “added value” to the individuals and families it serves.

“We have a team dedicated to getting local communities into work and, last year, Unity helped over 70 people to gain employment and more than 100 others to access training schemes,” he explained.  “And our income management team is tasked with reducing rent arrears, but in a way that helps our tenants given the financial issues people face.”

Mr Akbor also revealed that Unity’s subsidiary company, Unity Enterprise, which operates three business centres close to the heart of Leeds, had achieved a financial surplus in 2015-16 following a period of deficit.  He added: “Last year we completed a £1.4 million investment in Unity Enterprise and now it’s paying dividends.”        

But the Unity chief executive ended his remarks on a note of caution, following the recent EU referendum result.

“We have seen headlines about a divided nation and these have had a knock-on effect on the work of organisations like Unity,” he said.  “We have witnessed an increase in anti-immigration views.  Cohesion and diversity have been challenged in some areas with an increase in hate crime. 

“All of that means that the work of Unity Homes and Enterprise is much more important now than ever before.  Local community organisations like ours do make a difference, and we will continue to make that difference.” 

The meeting was held immediately before an historic inter-faith cricket match - co-sponsored by Unity - between Mount CC, a predominately Muslim team from Batley, and St Peter’s CC, made up of trainee priests and seminarians from the Vatican.    

Keynote speaker Lord Patel of Bradford – an adviser to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board – praised Unity staff for their achievements.

Lord Patel of Bradford answers questions following his keynote speech at the Unity Homes and Enterprise AGM

Lord Patel of Bradford answers questions following his keynote speech at the Unity Homes and Enterprise AGM

“It is really inspiring in terms of the work you do and what you’ve done for almost 30 years,” he said.  “The longevity with which you’ve managed to survive in these harsh times is really important.  A big thank you for what Unity does and to the board members for supporting you to this place.”

Opening the meeting, Unity chair Shruti Bhargava said she was proud to lead a strong, capable and diverse board.

“We are unified behind our social purpose to improve people’s lives in areas with high BME populations and help transform them into vibrant, multi-cultural neighbourhoods,” she said.  “I would like to congratulate the founders of Unity on their choice of name because it really demonstrates what we’re about.”

Ms Bhargava added:  “It is really important for organisations like Unity to be beacons and show what we can do to bring communities together and achieve real cohesion.”     

HEADINGLEY CRICKET GROUND TO HOST UNITY AGM AS CURTAIN-RAISER TO INTER-FAITH T20 GAME

The iconic home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club will be the venue for the Annual General Meeting of Leeds housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise next week in advance of an historic inter-faith cricket match under the Headingley lights. 

Unity will co-sponsor the T20 game on Monday evening (19th September) between Mount Cricket Club, a team of Muslim players from Batley, and St Peter’s XI of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican’s official cricket team made up of Rome-based priests and seminarians who will be playing the final match of their English tour.

The two sides will battle it out for the Sir John Major Friendship Cup having previously met in Rome last year with the home team securing a last ball victory.

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said he was thrilled that Headingley would be the venue for the Unity AGM - where Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE will deliver the keynote speech – followed by the game.

He said: “Unity was set up almost 30 years ago to address the housing needs of the black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds.  We have significantly expanded our range of activities since then and now manage more than 1,200 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds. 

“But, as our annual report entitled ‘Delivering Nationally, Delivering Locally’ vividly illustrates, we have never forgotten our roots.  That is why we are proud to co-sponsor such an inspirational sporting occasion and for our AGM to be a component part of a momentous day.  

“I look forward to setting out Unity’s many achievements from the last 12 months, before enjoying what I’m sure will be an outstanding demonstration of kinship on the cricket field.”

Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE

Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE

Lord Patel - appointed last year to the management board of the ECB, the governing body of England and Wales cricket - said:

“I believe that sport has the ability to break down boundaries and bring communities together.  Cricket, particularly with its rich and diverse history across the world, is a great example of this. 

“It is fitting that Unity is holding its AGM at YCCC prior to a very special inter-faith cricket match between Mount Cricket Club and St Peter’s XI.  Both Unity and YCCC are organisations that are committed to providing high quality services to the multi-cultural communities which they serve – both fundamentally believe in providing equality of access, experience and outcomes – whether through sport, housing or employment and education. 

“As a lifelong cricket fan and as a member of the ECB, I am so pleased that the game of cricket has been the catalyst to bring these organisations and communities together.”

Abdul A. Ravat who, in addition to his roles as player and development officer at Mount Cricket Club also serves as a Unity Enterprise board member, said:

“We are particularly grateful to Yorkshire County Cricket Club for their generosity as hosts.

“Unity’s ethos is about bringing people together and that is also the foundation of the ‘Light of Faith’ tour, which I have been privileged to organise.  The St Peter’s XI will fulfil a series of fixtures around the country including a triangular tournament at Edgbaston featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI.

“Mount Cricket Club spent three wonderful days in Rome last year in the spirit of friendship.  We look forward to offering our guests similarly warm hospitality when they arrive in Yorkshire.  I hope local people will come to Headingley in large numbers to support us.”

The Unity Homes and Enterprise AGM will be held in the Executive Suite of Headingley Carnegie Stadium at 4pm followed by a buffet, with the cricket due to get underway at 6pm. 

Both events are open to everyone and admission is free.    

From left to right: Abdul A. Ravat (Mount Cricket Club) with Fr Eamonn O’Higgins (The Vatican and St Peter’s Cricket Club) and Stephen Gray (Church of England) following a tour planning meeting at Lord’s earlier this year

From left to right: Abdul A. Ravat (Mount Cricket Club) with Fr Eamonn O’Higgins (The Vatican and St Peter’s Cricket Club) and Stephen Gray (Church of England) following a tour planning meeting at Lord’s earlier this year

NEW UNITY APPOINTMENT TO PROVIDE BOOST FOR LOCAL ENTERPRISE

Leeds-based Unity Homes and Enterprise has appointed an experienced commercial manager to oversee its business and enterprise centres following a major refurbishment project.

44-year-old Adrian Green joins the not-for-profit organisation after filling a range of client-facing roles with major private sector employers including Jay Tee Group, Bank of Scotland and Yorkshire Bank.

Unity currently provides 130 managed workspaces for around 80 local businesses in three facilities – Unity Business Centre, Chapeltown Enterprise Centre and Leeds Media Centre – close to the city centre.

Last year, Unity Business Centre and Chapeltown Enterprise Centre benefitted from a £1.4 million internal and external refurbishment scheme.

Leeds Media Centre is home to local television station Made in Leeds which went on air in 2014 and provides more than 40 jobs.  

Mr Green, who takes up the reins as Enterprise Manager, said he was impressed by Unity’s commitment to enhance the communities it serves.

Enterprise Manager Adrian Green outside Unity Business Centre in Chapeltown  

Enterprise Manager Adrian Green outside Unity Business Centre in Chapeltown  

He continued: “Unity was set up almost 30 years ago to serve local housing needs, but is now much more than a provider of high quality affordable homes.

“Unity Enterprise was established as a subsidiary company in 2000 to support local entrepreneurial activity and invest in social and economic regeneration.  Our three centres are pivotal to achieving these objectives and it is vital that they function at their optimum.

“We can boast a proud tenant retention rate but we also want to encourage other organisations to use the excellent resources we possess including our first class conference and meeting facilities.  Exciting times lie ahead.”    

Unity Chief Executive Ali Akbor added: “We are delighted to have Adrian onboard.  I have no doubt that his proven business acumen will deliver significant results for Unity.

“Partnership working is at the heart of everything we do and the businesses that take up units in our centres are hugely important to us.       

“Alongside our housing tenants, their rents help us to boost enterprise opportunities and protect local jobs.

“The £1.4 million spent upgrading Unity Business Centre and Chapeltown Enterprise Centre was a major commitment for an organisation of our size but, with Adrian’s input, I have no doubt that this investment will prove to be a shrewd move.” 

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