How dare EU

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

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

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

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

Quite.

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

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

Those involved deserved so much better than this. 

Unity chief executive backs Chancellor’s announcement on expanded HCA

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

Ali Akbor

Ali Akbor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unity tenants show enterprise to support Leeds Wellbeing Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National awards recognition for cricket-loving Unity board member

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Theresa May soon be handed her real P45?

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

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

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

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

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

It was embarrassing, excruciating and hellish to watch.   

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

An F disappeared first, followed swiftly be an E.   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde

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

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

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

The Lord Mayor of Leeds

The Lord Mayor of Leeds

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

Arthur France MBE

Arthur France MBE

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

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

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

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

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

Unity chair Shruti Bhargava

Unity chair Shruti Bhargava

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

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

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

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

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

Baroness Dean

Baroness Dean

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

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

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

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

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

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENTERPRISING BREAKFASTS DELIVER RESULTS FOR UNITY BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

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

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise manager

Adrian Green, Unity Enterprise manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive

Ali Akbor, Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive

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

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

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

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

Unity celebrates 30 years of improving lives in Leeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise

Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COLERAINE BUILDING FIRM PREPARES TO CELEBRATE SILVER ANNIVERSARY 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Kyle, Director, JK Joinery and Building Services

Jason Kyle, Director, JK Joinery and Building Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unity in enterprise as two business start-ups collaborate

Two up-and-coming businesses based at Chapeltown Enterprise Centre in Leeds have agreed to work together to provide a diverse range of new services for young people – and old. 

Inspirations Central formally opens its doors today (Friday 23 June) as a hub for children and parents to make music, create works of art, socialise and enjoy refreshments.

Owner Ruth Douglas spotted a gap in the market for a relaxed, creative environment for mothers and fathers to take their kids.

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

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

Inspirations Central will offer activities for all ages from parent and toddler groups, to private music lessons and holiday clubs.  The space can also be hired for children’s parties and evening craft events for adults.

And, in a tie-up that benefits both businesses and their customers, Ruth and her team will provide a daytime service for parents and carers who want to drop-off their children before using the first-class gym facilities at C’Town Studio on the same Mexborough Grove site.

Established 18 months ago by Michael Kamara, C’Town Studio is a multi-purpose fitness suite which offers a range of classes including yoga, Pilates, Zumba and circuit training. It is also home to Chapeltown Kickboxing Club and Mandela Runners.

Ruth Douglas, a mum of two, said: “As a music teacher and former primary school teacher, I have seen at first-hand the positive impact music and art can have on children.  The aim of Inspirations Central is to encourage children to use their imagination, be creative and enjoy themselves.

“Although we have been operational for a few weeks, we’re very excited by this weekend’s official launch and the opportunity to showcase what we do.  Our doors will be open to all from 1pm-3pm today and tomorrow for refreshments, live music and we’ll also have a few rocket-related freebies for the kids.

“Our partnership with Michael – which will allow parents to have a work-out or attend a class whilst we look after their children – will enable many more people to take advantage of the very different offerings we have available.”      

Michael Kamara said: “I’m delighted by the progress C’Town Studio has made over the last 18 months and we continue to go from strength to strength with the addition of new courses and services including meditation and Reiki.

“Our tie-up with Ruth will allow us to expand our membership even further and help more people to get fit.

“Exciting times lie ahead.”

Under the watchful eye of C’Town Studio owner Michael Kamara, Marie Obirigya passes on some workout tips to Inspirations Central owner Ruth Douglas and Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor

Under the watchful eye of C’Town Studio owner Michael Kamara, Marie Obirigya passes on some workout tips to Inspirations Central owner Ruth Douglas and Unity Homes and Enterprise chief executive Ali Akbor

Inspirations Central and C’Town Studio were brought together by Unity Enterprise manager Adrian Green.

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

Two of the sites - Chapeltown Enterprise Centre and Unity Business 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, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: “Our three centres currently provide 130 managed workspaces for around 80 local businesses, social enterprises and third sector organisations. 

“They have become true hubs of entrepreneurial activity, as evidenced by the increasing levels of collaboration between our tenants.

“The arrangement between Inspirations Central and C’Town Studio is a prime example of this.  I wish Ruth and Michael every possible success with their joint venture.”

UNITY CHIEF EXECUTIVE CALLS FOR STABILITY AS NEW HOUSING MINISTER TAKES THE REINS

New Housing Minister Alok Sharma MP

New Housing Minister Alok Sharma MP

The chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has written to new Housing Minister Alok Sharma to congratulate him on his appointment and invite him to visit affordable housing projects in the city. 

Alok Sharma, the MP for Reading West, has been promoted to the role of Minister of State for Housing and Planning after spending the previous 12 months serving as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

He replaces Gavin Barwell who lost his seat in last week’s General Election and has since been named as chief of staff to the Prime Minister. 

Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: "I welcome Mr Sharma’s elevation and hope he can bring some stability and longevity to the role. 

“He is the 15th housing minister we have had since 1997 and the sixth to hold the position since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

“His predecessor, Gavin Barwell, deserves credit for his efforts in pushing housing further up the Government’s domestic policy agenda.  I hope he will continue to do this as Theresa May’s chief of staff.

“The Conservative General Election manifesto recommitted the Government to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020, plus a further 500,000 by the end of 2022.

“It also promised to give greater flexibility to housing associations to increase their housing stock, including specialist housing stock in which Unity excels.  We want to play our full part in this and our track record shows that we are very well-equipped to do so.”

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor  

Unity chief executive Ali Akbor  

Unity Housing Association was formed in 1987 with the objective of building a strong, BME-led, community housing association to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds.  The initial focus was on Chapeltown, but this has widened to other areas of the city including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck and Chapel Allerton. 

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

Mr Akbor, who also serves as secretary/treasurer of BME National, a collective of over 60 BME housing associations in England, added: “I have written to Alok Sharma to pass on our good wishes and invite him to see the exciting work that Unity is doing to deliver high quality affordable homes for people across Leeds.   

“As a South-East MP, I believe it is vital that he spends time in places like West Yorkshire to hear what he can do to assist ambitious associations such as Unity to work alongside the Government in tackling the housing crisis.”   

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