An influential industry group, led by Lord Herman Ouseley, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, has appointed TK Associates to provide crisis communications support for a London housing association.

Ujima, after 30 years of providing affordable housing and support services to the Capital’s diverse communities, has run into severe financial difficulties. It is consequently being directed by the Government’s Housing Corporation to submit to a takeover by mainstream housing giant London & Quadrant.

This has caused an outcry amongst housing and community groups, which claim it will spell the end of Ujima as arguably Europe’s largest minority ethnic organisation, and all its expertise in supporting multicultural communities. Several other rescue packages have been put forward which would preserve Ujima as an independent entity, but these have not been accepted.

Our brief is to plan and run the Save Ujima campaign. This includes the creation of a Save Ujima web site, which will incorporate a mechanism for supporters to petition the relevant authorities. The campaign also involves a drive to lobby the Government, London authorities and Housing Corporation and to generate widespread media attention for the issue.

Lord Ouseley is supported by, amongst others, the 1990 Trust human rights organisation, the Federation of Black Housing Organisations, the Equaqnomics economic equality group and acclaimed poet Benjamin Zephaniah. The group believes it is vital to bring the matter to public attention, whatever the ultimate outcome of the Housing Corporation’s action against Ujima.

Lord Ouseley says: “We’re appalled by this attack from the Housing Corporation, and the way the Housing Minister is sitting back while it’s all being forced through. It’s left black-led housing and community groups feeling they’ve been kicked in the teeth.

“The so-called merger will destroy this unique organisation and everything it’s worked so hard to build up over the last 30 years. We’d urge everyone who cares about our diverse communities to lobby the Housing Corporation and Government.”

For more information about the campaign, see www.saveujima.com.