Olympic boxing icon Nicola Adams was the star attraction at Unity Homes and Enterprise’s Annual General Meeting, which also heard a speech from Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan praising Unity’s work.
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. Unity currently manages almost 1,200 properties, providing homes for single tenants, families, older people and those with special needs, from all communities. The initial focus was on Chapeltown, but this has widened to other areas of the city.
Unity Enterprise was established in 2000 to support local entrepreneurial activity, followed later by Unity Employment Services which helps tenants access employment and training.
“There is a really positive feel about the work Unity is doing,” Mr Riordan said. “Leeds is a diverse place encompassing many different communities. Unity’s activities in Chapeltown, Harehills, Holbeck, Beeston and elsewhere are fundamental to how the city operates.”
In the last financial year, Unity’s turnover increased by 6% to £5.6 million. 80 new homes were built, including a small development in Huddersfield – the organisation’s first project outside of Leeds. More than £1.3 million was invested in home improvements to 180 existing properties, with a further £1.4 million spent on the refurbishment of Chapeltown Enterprise Centre and Unity Business Centre, the latter now home to around 80 different companies. Unity Employment Services helped 60 people into work, delivered accredited skills training to 61 others and enabled 20 to gain work experience.
Unity chief executive Ali Akbor told invited guests at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance that assisting people was in the organisation’s DNA. He said: “Unity will continue to do our very best to provide high quality housing and other professional support to as many individuals and families as we can.”
Nicola Adams, who was born and educated in Leeds, offered an insight into her preparations for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. She said: “I am a proud Leeds girl and hope that my success will inspire many other young people in the city to work hard and achieve their dreams.”
Closing the meeting, recently-appointed Unity chair Shruti Bhargava thanked staff, shareholders, tenants and board members for their contributions over the past year. She said: “I look forward to playing a leading part in helping Unity to further enhance its well-established reputation for aspiration, excellence and delivering results.”