Aspire is a double winner at ABCC awards

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A Handsworth-based organisation which targets homelessness was a double winner at the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s 30th anniversary dinner and awards.

Aspire Supported Living CIC (community interest company) won the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Society’ award (sponsored by West Midland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association), as well as the overall ‘Business of the Year’ category (sponsored by Birmingham Airport).

Aspire scooped these awards even though it was only established in 2014, but now provides 300 supported  accommodation bed spaces to adult and young people, in Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.

The business says that in the past three years, it has gone from being a ‘blank piece of paper to an established community focused not-for-profit organisation’. It supports more than 1,000 vulnerable individuals, has a staff of 28 and a turnover in excess of £3m.

The business was founded by its current chief executive, Raja Khan, who has decades of experience of working with those affected by homelessness and mental health, and also the refugee sector.

After having established itself in the local area working with homeless people, Aspire now intends to become a register social landlord, in order to further develop its role in the community.

The organisation is also diversifying into the area of supported accommodation for young people, and will be developing up to five facilities across the West Midlands to help with this.

ABCC president Saqib Bhatti said: “This year’s award nominations were unprecedented in their quality. It was amazing to see the amount of companies and individuals doing great things in our city and our region.

“The judges felt that Aspire CIC was an exceptional contender and the judges rightly felt that they deserved to be ‘Overall Business of the Year’. As a CIC, they are a business that is also contributing significantly to the region and they were worthy and noble winners.”

Other winners at the awards, which took place at the ICC, included Alison Delaney for ‘Outstanding People Development’ (sponsored by South & City College Birmingham), and Escape Live, winner of the ‘Outstanding Small Business of the Year’ category (sponsored by Birmingham City University).

Winner of ‘Outstanding Large Business of the Year’ (sponsored by Mazars LLP) is

ISA Support Services, and winner of the ‘Outstanding Start-up Business of the Year’ was won by Ex-Forces Recruitment.

The winner of the final category, ‘Outstanding Business Woman of the Year’ (sponsored by Rational FX) was shared by Raj Tutt (Resolve Legal) and Sukhi Johal (RSM).

The awards evening saw the presentation of one final award, the President’s Award. This year, the award has been made to the controversial Asian comedian Adil Ray, who is the star of the BBC series ‘Citizen Khan’.

The audience at the event also heard a specially recorded message from Prime Minister Theresa May, to mark the ABCC’s 30th anniversary.

She said: “Across the UK, the Asian business community makes an enormous contribution to our economy, creating jobs and boosting growth.

“Organisations like the ABCC ensure that work is recognised and give businesses and entrepreneurs the support they need to thrive. Your work to promote women entrepreneurs, through your international women’s day celebration, is especially welcome.

“Tonight is a chance to celebrate everything you have achieved in the last 30 years and to look forward to even greater success in the future. I offer my sincere congratulations to you all.”

Douglas Wright Restaurants trading as McDonald’s was the headline sponsor of the awards and dinner and Ronald McDonald House was the chosen charity for the evening. Around £4,000 was raised for the charity, which provides accommodation for parents whose children are being treated in the nearby Children’s Hospital.

The event was hosted by TV presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Pictured (l to r): ABCC president Saqib Bhatti with Mark Turner (Aspire), Tom Screen (Birmingham Airport), Raja Khan (Aspire and Krishnan Guru-Murthy

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