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25 Mar 2022

East Midlands Chamber recognises organisations making a difference in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion at Celebration of Culture and Communities event

The East Midlands’ diversity and inclusion story was told via the medium of dance, music and food as one of the highlights in the East Midlands Chamber events calendar returned.

More than 350 people attended the Celebration of Culture and Communities – held in partnership with emh group, Morningside Pharmaceuticals and HSBC UK – at Leicester Tigers’ Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium last night (Thursday 24 March).

Guests were greeted at reception by a choir from the Embark Federation, a group of 13 schools across Derbyshire that work together to push up standards, and enjoyed a three-course Indian-inspired meal.

They were treated to three performances by Nupur Arts, a Leicester-based dance group whose members featured in Marvel Studios’ Eternals movie, in Kathak, Bollywood and Bhangra dance styles.

It also acknowledged the work that is making a difference to the region, with three special awards given to Cosy Foundation for Excellence in Equality, Autism East Midlands for Excellence in Inclusion, and De Montfort University for Excellence in Diversity.

Marking 50 years since Uganda’s expulsion of Indian diaspora

A series of keynote speeches also tapped into these themes. Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, chair of Loughborough-based Morningside Pharmaceuticals, spoke about the 50-year anniversary of the expulsion of Indian diaspora in Uganda. and the subsequent impact this community has had on the UK economy after many migrated to Britain.

He also explained the work of the Randal Charitable Foundation, which he founded to help socially disadvantaged people by offering grant funding to organisations that deliver life-saving and life-changing services.

Emh group chief executive Chan Kataria OBE, whose family was among the Indian diaspora that moved from Uganda to the UK, discussed the affordable housing provider’s joint first-of-its-kind research with the Chamber on equality, diversity and inclusion engagement among East Midlands businesses.

Roger Pratt, central region director in business banking at HSBC UK, also highlighted the firm’s work in supporting communities, while the Chamber’s vice-president Stuart Dawkins emphasised the importance of businesses and communities going hand in hand.

Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, said: “The Celebration of Culture and Communities event has become one of the most highly anticipated events in our calendar so it was great to have it back after last being held just weeks before the first national lockdown.

“Our region has much to celebrate in terms of our diverse range of people, communities and businesses, and it was fantastic to have so many inspirational individuals in one room for the evening to get a snapshot of the eclectic cultural talent that exists on our doorstep.

“We were delighted to join our partners in recognising some of the organisations that are making a difference in equality, diversity and inclusion – a subject that is all about improving opportunities for our people, which can only be good for the local economy and our communities.”

Equality, diversity and inclusion award winners

Cosy Foundation: Excellence in Equality (sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals)

Set up in 2011 by Derby-based business Cosy Direct, which supplies outdoor educational resources for young children, the Cosy Foundation distributes more than 10% of the company’s profits to community projects that help to reduce inequality for adults and improve children’s life chances. To date, it has provided £250,000 funding to more than 80 projects, ranging from camping trips for 5,000 Derby children to building classrooms in three African countries that have enabled almost 50,000 student days in its first decade.

Autism East Midlands: Excellence in Inclusion (sponsored by emh group)

The Worksop-based charity, founded in 1968, exists to ensure autistic people can lead their lives with dignity, choice and independence. It recently established an employment service offering targeted professional support, advice and training to help service users achieve their full potential in work after recognising only 16% of working-age autistic people are in full-time employment. The charity also runs Sutherland House School, in Sneinton, for students with autism from early years through to post-16s.

De Montfort University (DMU): Excellence in Diversity (sponsored by HSBC UK)

Alongside having a highly racially diverse student population – half of its 29,000 students come from Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds – DMU has taken major steps to continue creating opportunities. Its Leicester Future Leaders project aims to increase the number of BAME graduates who progress into highly-skilled work in Leicester, and as part of this the Make Diversity Your Business conference brought together students and businesses to explore barriers in graduate recruitment.