Businesses within Blackburn with Darwen have come together to celebrate the ongoing work to make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive

Representatives from nine businesses came out to mark the achievements of the Workforce Integration Ambassador Programme

Representatives from nine businesses came out to mark the achievements of the Workforce Integration Ambassador Programme delivered by Blackburn College, as part of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council's Social Integration Programme ‘Our Community, Our Future'.

The Programme brought together companies based in Blackburn with Darwen that are committed to ensuring an inclusive and diverse workplace to share best practice.

The purpose was to support local employers to develop diverse workforces, to review their practice, policies and procedures to break down barriers that might prevent them recruiting people from different cultural backgrounds.

The celebration event, held at the College's Scholars restaurant, recognised the ongoing work of the businesses in the programme to increase diversity.

During the event participants were treated to a two-course meal and enjoyed presentations from Ben Ritherdon, Managing Director of Ritherdon Ltd in Darwen, Muddassir Shah, Social Integration Programme Manager from Blackburn with Darwen Council, and Nazir Makda Diversity and Inclusion Lead from East Lancashire NHS Hospital's Trust.

Although the programme has now finished, members will continue to work together to share best practice and ideas through the formation of a supportive network. A number of events and opportunities will be available each year and open to all businesses and individuals, in addition to those who have taken part in the programme.

Nazir Makda Diversity and Inclusion Lead from East Lancashire NHS Hospital's Trust said: "The Workforce Integration Ambassador Programme is really empowering with a diversity of organisations sharing best practices and learning from each other.

"The idea is a game changer and it's great to see the collaboration within the group. It's clear to see how much everyone wants to make a difference to their organisation."

Ben Ritherdon, Managing Director of Ritherdon Ltd, in Darwen said: "The Programme has been superb, it's been fantastic to meet all the other fellow delegates and hear their ideas on how to improve diversity and inclusivity. I'm looking forward to putting what we've learnt into practice.

"The event has been really interesting, and I was honoured to be asked to speak. The food for the Scholars was also incredible, the students should be very proud."

Dr Fazal Dad, Principal and Chief Executive of Blackburn College said: "The Workforce Integration Ambassador Programme delivered in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has been a huge success and a great example of how working in collaboration can have significant benefits.

"We were delighted to welcome back members of the Programme to share their experiences of their ongoing journey to become more inclusive and diverse workplaces. We hope they all enjoyed the event."

Richard Brown, Head of Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing & Prevention at Blackburn with Darwen Council, added: "Our social integration programme recognises that the workplace is often where firm friendships are made. Supporting local employers to consider how they can attract a more diverse workforce directly supports a huge goal of our social integration work – to give people more opportunities to mix that are meaningful.

"Working alongside one another, colleagues have plenty of opportunities to find out more about one another, their family, their likes and dislikes – and we realise how much we have in common despite any cultural differences. It's a simple idea, but one that is proving very powerful."

Find out more about Blackburn with Darwen's Our Community, Our Future social integration programme: www.blackburn.gov.uk/social-integration

31 Mar 2022, 15:18 PM