A housing association that provides vital support to East London’s Bangladeshi community is to add 13 new properties to its portfolio, following a £1.4m loan from Unity Trust Bank.
The Bangla Housing Association owns 95 of the 286 affordable homes it manages and aims to purchase as many as possible to help fund its support services.
‘We offer advice on benefits and housing, workshops on healthy living and classes for women to improve their language skills,’ said association chief executive, Bashir Uddin (pictured).
‘We’ve banked with Unity Trust Bank for eight years and borrowed £8.4m during that time to purchase some of the properties that we manage on behalf of other landlords. The more properties we own, the more revenue we can generate for these services.
‘We have an excellent relationship with Unity Trust Bank. The team are very approachable, friendly and flexible, and understand our needs.’
Following the first wave of the pandemic, Mr Uddin set up the Bangla Covid-19 Advice Project using a £50,000 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, and with the support of BME London Landlords – a group of 14 BME Housing Associations, of which Bangla is a member.
‘The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on our community. Everyone knows someone who has died as a result of Covid-19, it is really alarming,’ said Mr Uddin.
‘I felt there was a gap in the information being given to our community and the take up of that advice. There was also a lot of negative publicity about the vaccine.
‘With two full-time staff and 30 volunteers, we have encouraged our residents and the community to adhere to Government guidelines, with the production of leaflets, posters and videos in Bengali.’
The Bangla Covid-19 Advice Project, which attracted national media coverage, ended in March. Bangla is now applying for more grants to extend the scheme, and to fund a Covid-19 Recovery Project.
‘The work we’re doing is having an impact but there is still a lot more to do. The after-effects of the pandemic include mental health issues, loss of income and bereaved families. We need to help people deal with the legacy of Covid,’ he added.