The National Housing Federation’s Housing summit was held on 19th October 2021. The work of Bangla Housing Association was showcased at the Summit, as an example of how locally based initiatives can help communities recover from the pandemic. The association’s COVID Advice Project, involved Bangladeshi-speaking Health Advice Project Workers delivering COVID advice to 10,000 Bangladeshi households in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
The pandemic has drawn our attention to pre-existing inequalities. In the Covid-19 crisis, ethnic inequalities have shown up in two fundamental ways: first, through exposure to infection, and second, through the impact of lockdown on income.
At the same time, the consequences of the crisis are not uniform across the community. According to Public Health England, the people most at risk of dying of Covid have been of Bangladeshi ethnicity.
Cedric Boston is the new Chief Executive of Leeds-based BME housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise.
He had served as Unity’s Interim Chief Executive since December 2020, replacing Ali Akbor OBE who was appointed to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Panel.
Mr Boston has over 30 years of senior level experience in social housing.
He is a former Chief Executive of Arhag, a London BME association dedicated to improving the life chances of migrants and refugees.
Mr Boston was also Director of Housing Services at Lambeth Living with responsibility for the provision of operational services to 65,000 people.
He read law and politics at Keele University, was called to the Bar in 1985 and is currently studying part-time for an Open University degree in classical history.
Unity was set up in 1987 to meet the housing needs of BME people in Leeds.
Backed by more than 30 years of knowledge and collective experience, it is regarded as one of the country’s most successful and forward-thinking BME-led housing associations and serves people from all ethnic backgrounds in West Yorkshire.
Unity Chair Shruti Bhargava said:
“We are delighted to appoint Cedric as Chief Executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise.
“He was one of five very diverse shortlisted candidates who went through a rigorous assessment centre and final interview process.
“Cedric is committed to Unity, cares deeply about it and what it does for our communities. He also wants the best outcomes for the organisation and its staff.
“Cedric has a compelling vision for Unity, and we are confident in the approach he will take to deliver it.”
Mr Boston said:
“As well as supporting Unity through the pandemic, my role over the past nine months has included helping the Board to refine its vision and mission, developing a new business corporate plan and leading staff through the initial phases of a change agenda.
“I look forward to building on these achievements and having the opportunity to broaden our external partnership work through building new alliances.
“Everything that Unity does flows from its social purpose which is focussed on fighting inequality and empowering BME people to improve their lives.
“These will be my guiding principles in the years ahead.”
The head of a Midlands Housing Association, Llewellyn Graham has been recognised as an unsung hero of the last year for his work in the Jamaican Diaspora community in the UK at Jamaica’s recent 2021 Governor-General’s Diaspora Achievement Awards for Excellence.
This year’s awards were a virtual event and featured as part of the main activities of the 9th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Symposium under the theme “Jamaica and the Diaspora: Stronger Together for a Sustainable Future.”
It provides a platform for unsung heroes to be recognised and have their stories pivot a wave of inspiration across Jamaica and the Diaspora. Since 2008, nearly 50 Jamaicans have received these prestigious Awards in the Diaspora regions of the United States of America, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Llewellyn Graham, Chief Executive of Great Barr based Nehemiah Housing Association, which has over 1244 properties across the West Midlands, won the award having impressed the judging panel with his significant contribution in the changing of lives in the community through his work within the housing association and as a Bishop within the Church of God of Prophecy. Importantly, they highlighted that during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Llewellyn led a dedicated team of frontline workers in the delivery of exemplary service to some of the most vulnerable members of the Jamaican-Diaspora Community.
His Excellency The Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, KSt.J, Governor-General of Jamaica, said: “The awards recognise the unsung heroes in the community who are working behind the scenes to make it a success. It is heartwarming to pat them on the back and say thank you and well done for the work they have been doing.
The standard of entries was incredibly high this year, and it was very hard to pick winners from all those who were nominated. With over 35 years of dedicated service to underserved communities and the Jamaican Diaspora, Bishop Llewellyn Graham, has built a strong legacy of quality service above self.”
Llewellyn Graham commented: “I am very pleased and honored to win this award and would like to thank the team that support me both within Nehemiah Housing Association and the Church without whom the great work we do would not be possible. I would also like to thank those who nominated me and I hope we can continue to maintain the high standards of work in future years.”
Bangla Housing Association Chief Executive, Bashir Uddin has been praised by Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, on behalf of her Majesty, The Queen for his ‘exceptional contribution to life in our great city’.
In a letter dated 1 June 2021 Sir Kenneth wrote:
‘Dear Bashir, as her Majesty The Queen’s personal representative in Greater London, an important part of my role is to recognise and thank those who have made an exceptional contribution to life in our great city.
It has come to my attention that you are one of those people who have long gone above and beyond the call of duty, especially with your work with the Bangla Covid Advice Project during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am therefore writing to personally thank you for all of your efforts and to encourage you to continue making positive difference to Londoners.
In these difficult times, communities need selfless people like you, to help us to maintain our spirit, to get through the challenges and hopefully, to come out the other side as an even stronger and more inclusive society’.
Bashir Uddin said ‘I am very humbled and pleased that our work with the Bangla Covid-19 Advice Project has been recognised. I must thank all of my colleagues at Bangla HA, the BCAP team, our partner organisations, BMELL, Faith Regen Foundation, the NHS, Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils for their invaluable support with this lifesaving project. Thanks to the National Lottery for funding this project. I am pleased that we have been able to support the community to our best ability during this extraordinary time and our work is not finished yet’.