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Leeds housing association applauded on 30th anniversary

PICTURED: Arthur France MBE, founder and chair of Leeds West Indian Carnival

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.

Speaking at Unity’s Annual General Meeting, Baroness Dean said that in her professional experience, larger housing associations were able to “look after themselves.”

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.”

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.’”


PRAISE: Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, former Housing Corporation chair

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, 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.”

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."


COMMITMENT: Shruti Bhargava, chair of Unity Homes and Enterprise

"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.”

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.”

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