From education to employment

Blackburn with Darwen businesses benefit from diversity programme at Blackburn University Centre

Businesses within Blackburn with Darwen have completed a collaborative training programme in order to support the drive towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

15 businesses took part in the Workforce Integration Ambassador programme run at Blackburn University Centre, as part of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Social Integration Programme ‘Our Community, Our Future’.

The programme brought together companies based in Blackburn with Darwen that are committed to ensuring an inclusive and diverse workplace to share best practice. 

The purpose was to support local employers to develop diverse workforces, to review their practice, policies and procedures to break down barriers that might prevent them recruiting people from different cultural backgrounds.

Each participating company identified a member of staff who trained as a Workforce Integration Ambassador.

Ambassadors participated in four training sessions focused on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, covering topics including research into prejudice and biases, and knowledge and ideas about how to improve organisational culture to achieve the highest standards of inclusion. The interactive workshops included sessions with external agencies and experts.

A workshop held during the Workforce Integration Ambassador programme run at Blackburn University Centre

Ambassadors were supported to develop action plans and companies who successfully completed the programme have been given access to a grant of £300 to support implementation of these action plans.

Businesses that took part in the programme came from a range of sectors. They included: Together Housing, Forbes Solicitors, Anord Mardix, Ritherdon & Co Ltd and Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

Ben Ritherdon, Managing Director of Ritherdon Ltd, a manufacturing business based in Darwen, said: “It has been good to meet people from different types and sizes of organisation during the Workforce Ambassador Programme. The training delivered by the Blackburn University Centre team has given me new ideas to try out at Ritherdon.

“Several of these improvement ideas are now on the action plan that I have been building throughout the course; the main ones being based around improving our recruitment strategies to try and attract talented people into manufacturing from a broader range of our society.”

Councillor Mohammed Khan CBE, Leader for Blackburn with Darwen Council and Chair of the Our Community, Our Future board, said: “It is vital that we give local residents from different backgrounds the chance to mix in the workplace. Working side by side and supporting one another at work is such an easy way to foster an understanding of other cultures and religions – and to establish real friendships.”

Find out more about Blackburn with Darwen’s Our Community, Our Future programme at

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