Young people from ethnic minority backgrounds in West Yorkshire are set to benefit from a £1.7 million grant to tackle workplace discrimination and support employment opportunities, Youth Futures Foundation announced on 22 March.

The Hamara Centre has been selected to lead the project targeted at young people with Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage living in Leeds and Bradford. Nearly half of people (45%) in Bradford and one in ten in Leeds under the age of 21 have South Asian heritage.

Why has the funding been awarded?

The funding announcement comes after new research from Youth Futures Foundation found that almost half of young people from an ethnic minority background have experienced prejudice or discrimination when seeking to enter the workplace. This research is based on the largest survey of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds carried out in the UK, interviewing 3,250 young people.

Last year, Youth Futures Foundation worked with 30 organisations including the Hamara Centre to explore systemic barriers facing Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities and identify organisations to pursue potential solutions. As part of this, the Hamara Centre engaged with 157 young people as well as family and community members with Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and other British Muslim backgrounds.

Young people shared their experiences and perspectives on employment through activity sessions, focus groups, interviews, and surveys. This process highlighted a range of barriers facing young people from these communities, which go beyond the usual challenges faced by all young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What the research showed

The research revealed instances of discrimination in educational environments, during the hiring process, and in the workplace as well as mainstream employment and support services. Additionally, young people reported that family pressures constrained their educational and employment choices and gender norms influenced decision-making.

Hamara’s goals for the funding

The Hamara Centre has developed three key interventions to tackle the challenges encountered by young people in these communities, including working with employers to reform recruitment and management practices, creating new employment pathways by channeling resources into excluded communities, and amplifying the collective voice of individuals from local communities across all levels of the system.

What people are saying

Sarah Yong, Director of Policy and Communications at Youth Futures Foundation, said:

“Ambitious young people deserve to have the same opportunities as everyone else and have their voices heard, regardless of their race or ethnicity.”

“We’re excited to be working with the Hamara Centre, who have a track record of supporting local communities for over two decades, to unlock the potential of young people and help the regional economy thrive.”

Raheem Mohammad, Director at Hamara, said:

“Ethnic disparity within the workplace has been ongoing for decades, but it feels like only recently it’s become recognised as something employers should be addressing. Unfortunately, damage will already have been felt by thousands of young people and their families across the country, but our work can change this for local young people today”.

“With this new project, Hamara will be working with other sector colleagues to bring this insight to the surface, and influence system change for the better of our future generations.”

Mustafa, aged 24 and Young Person at Hamara said:

“I’m overjoyed to see young people from ethnic minority backgrounds receiving the platform they rightly deserve. This intervention planned by Youth Futures Foundation and Hamara for the upcoming years fills me with exhilaration. The thought that there is tangible action being taken so that people will no longer have to endure the discrimination and disrespect I once faced brings me a sense of completeness and ease.”