Published: March 26, 2021
A housing association which has provided vital support to east London’s Bangladeshi community during the Covid-19 pandemic is to add 13 new properties to its portfolio, following a £1.4m loan from Unity Trust Bank.
Bangla Housing Association owns 95 of the 286 affordable homes it manages and is keen to purchase as many as possible to help fund its support services.
Chief Executive Bashir Uddin said: “We offer advice on benefits and housing, workshops on healthy living and classes for women to improve their language skills.
We’ve banked with Unity Trust Bank for eight years and borrowed £8.4m during that time to purchase some of the properties which 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. They are very approachable, friendly and flexible and understand our needs.”
Ian Heesom is a Relationship Manager at Unity Trust Bank. He said: “We understand the importance of the work Bangla does in the local community. We’re proud to support their acquisition of more affordable housing.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on the Bangladeshi and BAME communities. Bangla has made a real difference to people living in the East London area.”
Following the first wave of the pandemic, Mr Uddin set up the Bangla Covid-19 Advice Project with a £50,000 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund and supported by 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, it is really alarming,” said Mr Uddin.
“I felt there was a gap in the information being given to our community. I unfortunately saw a resistance to the take up of that advice when it did filter through. 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. They have produced leaflets, posters and videos in Bengali.”
The project, which attracted national media coverage, is due to end this month (March). Bangla will be applying for more grants for an extension of this project. They are also working on a Covid-19 Recovery Project.
Mr Uddin said: “The work we’re doing here at Bangla Housing Association is having an impact. But, there is still a lot more to do. The after-effects of Covid are mental health issues, loss of income and bereaved families. We need to help people deal with the legacy of Covid.”
To find out more about how Unity Trust Bank can support your business, contact Ian Heesom on 07540 159648 or visit www.unity.co.uk for more information.