From education to employment

Communities that Work and BME National join forces to tackle unemployment in disadvantaged communities

4 students at a table, one in wheelchair, looking at each other smiling

BME National is a collective of housing associations which work in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country. Black and minority ethnic housing providers were set up in the 1970s and now manage over 65,000 homes across England. It aims to highlight the contribution BME housing makes to communities, while promoting equality and diversity in the delivery of housing and support services. While the membership is mostly BME associations, the body includes BME subsidiaries of large mainstream housing providers.   

The organisation has become a member of Communities that Work, a national body for social landlords which aims to transform lives for good by supporting people into rewarding and sustainable employment. As part of this collaboration, the two organisations will focus on understanding how minority ethnic communities, particularly those living in social housing, engage in work opportunities, as well undertaking research to discover how tenants can access better paid employment opportunities that support their career ambitions and enhance their quality of life.  

Together, the two organisations plan tounderstand the way people from minority ethnic communities, particularly those living in social housing, engage with work opportunities e.g the GIG economy and self-employment. Secondly, they want to outline what needs to happen for people to access better paid employment which will lead to a better quality life. 

Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director at Communities that Work, said: 
“As the only national body dedicated to housing and employment – we are always looking to collaborate with organisations that share our values. BME National shares our ambition to create employment opportunities for communities across the country that need it the most. As we continue to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, it is more important than ever that social housing tenants are not overlooked when it comes to employment. 

“Communities across the UK are undergoing economic turmoil, and for many secure employment serves as a way to alleviate this. Through collaborative actions we will be able to better navigate this environment and ensure that social housing tenants on low incomes are supported.” 

Chair of BME National, Cym D’Souza, said:  
“There are a number of existing barriers – including social, economic, linguistics and housing- that limit our tenants from being able to kick-start their careers. One of the greatest barriers that our tenants face is the lack of good quality homes. Those in the social housing system often live in overcrowded spaces and do not have the home security which creates a stable environment in which they can focus on meeting their aspirations. 

“By joining Communities that Work we will be able to create greater awareness of these issues and develop means to ensure that no one gets left behind.”

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