New faces on board as Unity welcomes new recruits

LEEDS’ Unity Home & Enterprise has appointed seven new members to its board following a competitive recruitment exercise.

The successful candidates were welcomed to the organisation’s headquarter by board chair, Shruti Bhargava, and chief executive, Ali Akbor.

“I offer my heartfelt thanks to our retiring board members, Shazia Khan, Tim Yeardley and Andrea Tara-Chand for their dedicated service over many years,” said Bhargava. “They set the bar very high and, in the finest traditions of Unity, have left legacies of remarkable personal and community achievement.

“Their successors are of the finest calibre.  Each is dedicated to furthering community cohesion and positively impacting the lives of local people.  They also possess an enduring sense of social purpose, which is forever at the heart of our work.  Being able to attract candidates of such quality and renown underlines Unity’s ever-growing reputation for excellence.

“I look forward to working with them to deliver first class affordable homes and address wider inequalities in the diverse communities we are privileged to serve.”

Four of the new recruits will be serving on Unity’s Housing board. They are:

  • Nahim Ruhi-Khan, head of housing and corporate property management services at Leeds City Council
  • Liz Cook, chief executive of Citizens Advice Sheffield
  • Dave Richmond, city neighbourhoods and housing manager at Hull City Council
  • Abdul Hamied, senior programme manager, General Practice Development Team at NHS England

Meanwhile, the Unity Enterprise board will be joined Kalsoom Iqbal, quality assurance and contracts manager at Rochdale Borough Council, and former Bradford College group chief executive, Andy Welsh, who is now a self-employed consultant.

The seventh new member of the team is management accountant Abdul Rashid who has been co-opted onto Unity’s audit and management committee and will act as a Unity Housing board observer.

Each of these new board members will serve an initial three-year term, which can be extended, the organisation said.

Unity has also announced the appointment of Ann Marie Matson to the newly-created position of director of resources. For the past five years, she has served as head of finance and procurement at Leeds Federated Housing Association.

“These are exciting times for Unity. I am delighted that our new board members will be with us on the journey ahead,” said chief executive, Ali Akbor. “I am equally thrilled that Ann Marie Matson has joined us as director of resources with a brief to sharpen Unity’s business focus and strengthen our relationships with key partners.

“2018 has been an excellent year, which saw the association shortlisted for three national housing awards. Amongst many other highlights, we added 58 new affordable homes to our expanding portfolio, opened an incubator at Unity Business Centre, helped 110 people to find employment and another 177 to improve their work skills.

“2019 promises to be a landmark year as we move towards the completion of a host of affordable housing projects including our first scheme in Cleckheaton.

“Unity is forever in a quest for new horizons and fresh ways of regenerating local communities. The reconfigured boards and new senior staff appointment will bring added vigour to these endeavours.”


Main Image: Unity Homes & Enterprise chair Shruti Bhargava (front right) and chief executive Ali Akbor (front left) welcome the new recruits to the association’s offices in Leeds

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