Having enjoyed a sixteen-year career in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles – a spinal cord injury in 2006 changed the trajectory of my life.
After two back surgeries and a year of intensive physical therapy rehabilitation, I moved back to the UK to be closer to family.
Following the birth of my second son I experienced severe post-natal depression (PND) – I was in a two-year post-natal depression study at the University of Oxford.
Involvement with my landlord through co-regulation became a lifeline for me. Somehow, through my journey, I developed the housing ‘bug’ and my landlord was incredibly supportive in helping me pursue my MA Degree in Housing Practice.
I became a board member of the Chartered Institute of Housing’s SE board and discovered my passion. In 2015 my MA dissertational research was awarded the CIH Prize and my research was published by HQN.
As one of the founding members of #BenefitToSociety it has been exciting to see the campaign growing from strength to strength – garnering cross-party political support.
I am passionate about it having experienced, first-hand, the shame and social stigma attached to living in social housing.
Being asked to write my Housing Day story in 2014 was a pivotal moment for me. It was a scary as I realised I was ashamed of living in social housing, however; by overcoming my initial fear – I found a strength in myself to stand up and challenge the stigma.
My motto to myself has become – ‘If Not You… Who?’
In 2016, I joined the Tpas board and became a chartered member of CIH – I also became my father’s carer until his death last December.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to work with the DCLG and the then housing minister, Alok Sharma MP.
It was a truly collaborative experience helping to co-develop and co-facilitate the ministerial roadshows that took place at the end of last year – also helping to facilitate a Grenfell event attended by the new housing minister, Dominic Raab MP, in February this year.
I am excited to be currently working as the research and policy officer at Soha Housing. It feels great to now be working in the sector that has given me a firm sense of stability.
My father was in the RAF and I moved around a lot as a child – I was always the new kid. The stability my social housing home provides me and my children is priceless – this is the longest I have lived anywhere my entire life.
It feels good to be able to put down roots, to have my children go to school with friends they have known since they were babies – to be living in a community.
Everyone should have the same opportunity!
Name: Leslie Channon
Where: Burford, West Oxfordshire
Landlord: Cottsway Housing Association
Tenant since: September 2010
Activities: Chair – A Voice for Tenants’ steering group, Tpas director, Benefit To Society – core steering group, CIH chartered member, MA Degree in Housing Practice – University of Westminster
Awards: Cottsway Housing’s Tenant of the Year award 2015, Tpas Tenant of the Year Finalist 2015, Dissertational research awarded the CIH Prize 2015, HQN commissioned a 10-page brief of MA dissertational research – published 2016.