Arhag Housing Association

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Arhag Housing Association's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Arhag Housing Association is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

CEO CedricBoston
RISE participations
Migrants and refugees regularly feature in our political
discourse, but less is said about the grass-roots
organisations that provide first-hand help for this group
of people. Founded nearly 40 years ago, initially as a campaigning
group, Arhag is a housing association for marginalised groups
in society, whose provision is currently expanding. In addition
to providing good housing for hundreds of families in London,
they’re also seeking to help in other areas of life for the most
vulnerable in our society – primarily, migrants and refugees.
Doing this requires strong collaboration, something that Chief
Executive Officer Cedric Boston expands upon.
Helping those most in need
2019 is to be a defining year for Arhag – and hopefully for thousands of migrants
and refugees in London who will benefit from a radical, new way to provide
cost-effective services to these neglected and marginalised groups. Arhag,
a traditional but specialist BME housing association, is changing its business
model from providing housing to 1,000 families across the capital to much more
At present, the conventional belief is that social landlords must merge with others
in the same field, increase their housing stock and make cost savings, if they are
to expand. Arhag, however, was born as a campaigning organisation almost 40
years ago and our approach is different. Instead of merging, we are forging new
partnerships – not with fellow housing providers, but with organisations that
»CEO: CedricBoston
»Established in 1979
»Located in Stratford, East
»Services: Housing association
and life support group
»No. of employees: 28
Highlighting best practice
38 | ARHAG
offer different services to the groups
we all serve: migrants and refugees.
Weareestablishing a hub of like-
minded organisations, which will help
provide access to housing, legal advice,
medical help, finance and employment.
In short, we aim to become the
go-to organisation for migrants and
refugees in the capital, providing an
all-encompassing range of high-quality
services. Already we have a number of
fruitful partnerships, including, Doctors of
the World, who will run a GP surgery,
Olmec a social enterprise which runs an
award-winning course to get BME people
in London into work or improve their
career prospects. In addition to this,
we have partners who, although not
joining us in the hub, will provide vital
services none-the less, Praxis community
projects, who were influential in
exposing the Windrush scandal.
Forging a true community
We have bought purpose-built offices,
which will house up to ten partner
organisations who will pay a subsidised
rent and enjoy huge cost savings by
sharing backroom services – meaning
that more of their money goes on the
core offering of each organisation, and
less on administration. This comes at
a time when grants to agencies like
these have all but evaporated, and
when funding for vital services not
provided elsewhere is more difficult to
find than it has been for a long time.
We want the Arhag hub to become
a kind of social triage where those in
need can be diagnosed, and treated
for a host of issues through integrated
services in a seamless system. They can
be helped with everything from basic
health to resolving a legal problem
over status or housing, as well as
with finding a job and integrating
The reason for doing this is because
we believe in the power of the human
spirit, and in the resolution and
fortitude of migrants and refugees.
Migration is a part of the UK’s
long history and has always had a
positive impact on our society. We
feel it is vital to work in partnership
to support migrants and refugees,
counteracting policies such as the
government’s deliberately created
“hostile environment” for migrants and
refugees, which would otherwise hinder
any such positive impact. Stringent
application of “no recourse to public
funds” rules effectively means, as far as
migrants and refugees are concerned,
the end of public services like health
and housing – in addition to an already
low public sympathy in their plight.
Coupled with this is a diminishing
pool of charitable funds, reducing
the number of organisations who can
help. Local authorities, too, are unable
to provide co-ordination, because of
public sector cuts, resulting in broken
service chains. We are starkly aware
of this predicament and want London
to be a better place for migrants
Arhag Hub, Stratford
In short, we
aim to become
the go-to
for migrants
and refugees
in the capital,
providing an
range of high-
quality services
Ultimately, they have something
very valuable to contribute and have
been the lifeblood of this country for
centuries. Supporting them, has not,
however, been easy; it has required
collaboration between willing partners
and the help of new offices and
available resources, which together
have helped define exactly what we
want to do. After much effort, the
new hub’s partner organisations will
begin physically working together in
Newham in the new year.
The reality is that we’ve been
collaborating with some of our
partners for many years.
The diversity led us to achieve better
outcomes – far better than anything
we could do on our own. Earlier this
year, the strength of our offering
was crucial in securing more than £1
million in grants from the Department
of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport in
the form of the Tampon Tax Fund.
We made a combined bid with our
partners, Migrants’ Rights Network,
Praxis Community Projects, Doctors of
the World, Olmec and the Iranian and
Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation
to fund a series of projects for BME
women. It’s a fantastic example of
how, by working together, we can
achieve so much. With Olmec, we’ve
been running the employment scheme
to help BME clients into work. It has a
60 per cent success rate, a feat that’s
led to a number of industry awards.
Changing the landscape of
Our new model means we’ll be able to
offer a first-class working environment,
unified facilities and backroom services.
Taken together, this will create much
greater efficiency. Previously, for
example, one of our partners spent 40
per cent of their time managing issues
related to their dilapidated office.
We believe we are charting a new way
to help fund much needed services
to minority groups which extend far
beyond our own area of expertise. By
collaborating with specialist charitable
organisations outside of the housing
sector, who share the same vision and
purpose, we can deliver real social
change and effective services. This is
a model that could be applied across
There are housing associations that
serve, among others, the elderly, ex-
offenders, disabled people and those
with mental health issues. These are
people not just in need of homes;
they need all kinds of assistance with
employment, financial advice, and
healthcare. In doing what we do, we
hope that were serving as pathfinders,
mapping out a route in these financially
and politically challenging times. For
our part, we want to create a thriving
community of like-minded but varying
talents to address a significant segment
of our society – particularly at a time
when it’s needed most.
We want the
Arhag Hub to
become a kind
of social triage
where those in
need can be
treated and
signposted to
the next stage
Newman Court, a new-
build property, 2012

This article was sponsored by Arhag Housing Association. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy