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Unity key to Leeds healthcare partnership success

Staff at Leeds housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise have played a major part in helping young people across the city to access job opportunities in healthcare.

Earlier this year, Unity was one of a group of health, social care and third sector partners which came together to form Healthier Working Futures Leeds, a Healthier Working Futures project which is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

The aim was to help unemployed and economically inactive young adults aged 16-25 to develop the skills and confidence to fill local healthcare vacancies, with a particular emphasis on those facing barriers to employment such as learning difficulties or disabilities, mental health issues, family breakdown and homelessness.

At the end of the six-month pilot, Unity staff had made contact with 70 young people – the highest figure achieved by any partner organisation.

Kelly Jennings, Unity Employment Outreach Officer, said: “We engaged with the candidates in a range of different ways, including through events such as job fairs delivered in collaboration with schools and community groups.

“The team helped with job applications and the preparation of CVs, job search training, interview roleplay exercises and arranged one to one conversations with NHS ambassadors.

“We were delighted with Unity’s contribution to the pilot scheme and hope that the good work already done can be built on well into the future.”

Cedric Boston, Unity Chief Executive, said: “In the last financial year, our small but immensely dedicated Employment Services team helped 148 people to find jobs, 233 to improve their skills and employability through training and a further 15 to take-up voluntary work.

“We also undertook research to calculate the social value of the team’s activities over this period.  For an annual investment of less than £70,000, we calculated that they generated £1.24 million in social value.

“Their efforts on behalf of Healthier Working Futures Leeds have been outstanding and, as an organisation driven by our social purpose, Unity is proud to be making a tangible difference to young people’s lives in the city.”

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Candidates and staff at a Unity-led Healthier Working Futures Leeds training session

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The UK Community Renewal Fund  The UK Community Renewal Fund is a UK Government programme for 2021/22. This aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment. For more information, visit Unity Homes and Enterprise Unity Housing Association was formed in 1987 with the objective of building a strong, BME-led, community housing association to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds. The initial focus was on Chapeltown, but this has widened to other areas of the city including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck, Chapel Allerton and Pudsey. Alongside two schemes in Huddersfield, a new affordable housing development has recently been completed in Cleckheaton. With a turnover of £6.8 million and an annual investment in new and existing homes of around £6.5 million, Unity now manages over 1,300 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds. In 2000 the association established its not-for-profit subsidiary company, Unity Enterprise, to support local entrepreneurial activity. It now provides 142 affordable business units for more than 80 diverse businesses across three centres in Leeds. Unity Employment Services (UES) was set-up in 2011 to support Unity tenants and their surrounding communities in accessing employment and training opportunities. It has since supported more than 1,700 individuals into work and training.

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