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In 1988, when Shian Housing Association was founded, it was a time of heightened racial tensions. The scars were still raw from the riots, three years earlier, in Brixton and at Broadwater Farm Estate. A voluntary organisation, Harambee II, which helped young offenders, had identified a need for permanent housing for those who wanted to move away from a life of crime.

Shian was formed to meet that need and to cater for the general housing requirements of ethnic minority people in Hackney and neighbouring areas.

This proved to be the start of an important journey.