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Birmingham's Shahjalal Housing Co-op is 'a model for community inclusion' - MEP

July 22, 2010 11:50 AM

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne has praised the Birmingham-based Shahjalal Housing Co-operative as a model example of a community initiative for affordable housing.

The West Midlands MEP joined Bangladeshi Assistant High Commissioner Faisal Ahmed as guest speaker at a meeting in Perry Barr on Monday July 19th celebrating the work of the Co-operative, which has become one of the leading Bangladeshi community organisations in Britain since it adopted its present form in 1996.

Liz Lynne, who is First Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, was also the author of a landmark Social Reality Stocktaking report for the Parliament.

She said: "This is the European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion and the lack of affordable housing is an absolutely central problem, not just in the Bangladeshi community but across Britain and in many major European cities."

"The EU rightly has no direct competence in housing, but it has a valuable role to play in sharing best practice. Just as we have common problems, there is a lot more we can do to encourage lessons to be learned from different models of success."

"Social exclusion and poverty can only be tackled effectively if all sections of society have access to affordable housing that meets their particular needs. The Shahjalal Co-operative has proved that this can be provided in a way which involves local people from the community it serves."

"Your motto 'from the community for the community' is not just an empty slogan but accurately reflects the way the group works, with tenant members actively involved in a partnership between local people, the council and housing organisations. It is something we can all learn from."

"Shahjalal addresses other needs too such as education and language skills and addresses women's issues and the needs of older people - an area dear to my heart."

"It is an anchor for the community and an effective advocate for the Bangladeshi community which too often does not have a voice."

Liz Lynne praised the work of Malik Ullah, the Chair of the management committee and congratulated committee members on their recent re-election.

Liz added: "I am also encouraged by Shahjalal's plans to expand to other parts of the West Midlands, to other communities and provide new services.

"These are tough economic times and affordable, good quality housing is essential. This makes the role of organisations such as Shahjalal all the more important.

"I am proud to represent this region and I am proud that we have such a successful but caring organisation at its heart."

Other speakers at the event included Cllrs Tariq Khan and Ayoub Khan and the Assistant High Commissioner for Bangladesh, Faisal Ahmed.