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.
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.”