‘BAME communities must be at the heart of levelling up’

The needs of neighbourhoods with high proportions of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) residents must be central to the Government’s levelling-up agenda, the Chair and Chief Executive of Manningham Housing Association (MHA) has said.

In a joint New Year message, Barrington Billings and Lee Bloomfield warned that the Covid-19 pandemic continued to highlight the inequalities BAME communities have endured for decades.

They said:

“2020 has been another desperately difficult year for everyone, but particularly for those who have least.

“If Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are serious in their quest to level up society, they should look no further than the most deprived neighbourhoods across the country which often have large numbers of BAME people living there.

“MHA is enormously proud of the work we do in these communities in Bradford and Keighley but, whilst we have high aspirations, our resources are limited.

“After several delays, the Government’s levelling-up White Paper is finally due to be published in January.   Rather than reheated rhetoric, it is our earnest hope that the needs of BAME communities will be at the heart of this document which will become a roadmap for improving the lives of those who require most help.”

Founded in 1986, MHA manages more than 1,400 homes for over 6,000 residents in Bradford and Keighley.  It is the first housing association in the country to be officially accredited for its work in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.  In 2020, MHA won the Northern Housing Outstanding Approaches to Communications Award for its work in supporting tenants during the pandemic and was shortlisted for two UK Housing Awards including Landlord of the Year.

In their joint statement, Mr Billings and Mr Bloomfield said that specialist BAME housing providers such as MHA are more than just landlords:

“The untrained eye might think that many of the more overt forms of racism that characterised the second part of the 20th century have disappeared today, but events of the last few years have shown clearly how important it still is to have a strong BAME housing sector.

“We go beyond the delivery of good quality, affordable housing. We are advocates for our communities, delivering culturally sensitive services and giving individuals and families from BAME backgrounds real opportunities to improve their lives.

Despite the challenges, they said that MHA was entering 2022 with great optimism:

“We are incredibly proud of our staff, all of whom have worked so hard to support each other and the communities we serve during such unprecedented times.  They have risen to the challenge and will continue to do so.

“But we now need the Government to step up and deliver on its promise to truly level up our country, with the needs of BAME people high on that agenda.”