Housing Diversity Day 2019

Diversity has always been at the heart of LYHA’s philosophy.

Our parent organisation was founded back in the 1950s when Britain was still suffering from the effects of World War 2: rationing was still in operation; many areas were devastated from bombing and there was a shortage of homes to house the fast growing ‘baby boom’ population.

One group struggling to find accommodation was the growing numbers of people who had emigrated to the UK, from then British colonies, to help meet the post-war labour shortage. To help address this need, our founder, Charles Charlesworth, a solicitor from Leeds, set up a range of organisations catering for different aspects of housing need. One of these was Aggrey Housing (founded in 1955) which became the very first organisation in the UK to focus on providing housing for these newcomers to Britain, who frequently faced prejudice from landlords based on their colour. It was named after Ghanaian educationalist, Dr James Aggrey (1875-1927), who strongly believed that people from many different backgrounds could live together in harmony. “You can play a tune of sorts on the white keys and you can play a tube of sorts on the black keys, but for harmony you must use both the black and white” was Dr Aggrey’s saying, which the association carried on its annual reports. By the end of its first year, Aggrey Housing had provided rental housing for families from Africa, India, the West Indies, central and eastern Europe and helped dozens more to buy houses of their own.

Over the decades that followed, inclusion has remained a central part of Leeds & Yorkshire Housing Association’s philosophy. Today almost 20% of our customers are from the BME community and some of Aggrey Housing’s initial properties remain part of our housing stock, such as Consort Terrace in the Belle Vue area of Leeds.

In 2018 LYHA gained the Housing Diversity Network (HDN) accreditation and we are currently taking a fresh look at our approach to equality and diversity, involving customers and team members from across the business to ensure our action plan puts inclusion at the heart of all decision-making. Our Head of Home and Growth, Joanna Chambers, is also taking part in the HDN mentoring programme which provides opportunities to learn and share experiences from across the sector.