In an increasingly tough jobs market, Bradford’s housing associations are teaming up to help get people into work.
From providing work experience for jobseekers to business mentoring for would-be entrepreneurs, the district’s social landlords are helping jobless people from their estates – and across the rest of the district – as they struggle to find employment.
Rob Warm, of the National Housing Federation, said Bradford’s housing associations were setting an example to the rest of the country by working together to get people into jobs.
He particularly praised schemes in which jobless tenants were given work looking after the homes on their estates.
One project, run jointly by Accent and Incommunities, seeks out tenants who are looking to become self-employed cleaners and are willing to provide a reliable service for some of their landlords’ properties.
In the scheme, called Locally Grown, these tenants are then given help and advice on how to set up a business and how it could affect their benefits, if they claim them.
Through another scheme, Incommunities’ Open Field project, enterprise coaches have helped more than 100 people set up their own businesses.
Mr Warm, Yorkshire lead manager for the National Housing Federation, said such projects were a “win win” situation, as social landlords saved money by getting work done locally and tenants were given a stable income.
As well as helping their own tenants find regular work, local housing providers are also creating jobs for the wider district.
Both Incommunities and Accent run their own apprenticeship schemes, in which people can learn trades from joinery to gas plumbing.
Mr Warm said projects like these set people up with skills for life.
He said: “If you speak to young people in Bradford, there will be a huge number who would like a career in construction, or a trade. These young people will be equipped to do a job for the rest of their lives.”
Nusayba Sulaymaan was one of the lucky few who secured an apprenticeship with Incommunities, after three separate interviews for the role.
She was unemployed before she began her four-year plumbing apprenticeship in 2008, aged 19.
She said: “You are earning by learning. They were paying me to learn, that was the benefit of it – and meeting all these wonderful people.
“It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but they say growth comes from pain, don’t they?
“I qualified in August and I’m now working for Incommunities’ day-to-day repairs team. Every job is different, never mind every day.
“It’s given me loads of friends, it’s given me confidence and it’s given me a career I can fall back on.
“I would recommend it to every young person going, simply because they are not going to lose anything for doing it. They have so much to gain. It’s a career for life, for men and women.”
Miss Sulaymaan said while she got on well with her mainly-male team, she would like to see more women entering the construction sector.
She said: “It would be nice to see more, because you could really help each other.”
And despite now being a qualified plumber, the training isn’t over for Miss Sulaymaan, who is now studying gas appliances.
She said: “I want to stay with Incommunities as a plumber for now. I’m completing my gas studies soon and I’m going to go on to the gas servicing side, then who knows?”