Young Leaders: Final five revealed

It is our pleasure to reveal the five Young Leaders who will battle it out to take the crown at the National Housing Federation annual conference.


After a hard-fought semi-final, where all 10 semi-finalists produced inspiring ideas on how they could change the sector for the better, five names have been chosen to be in the final.

The final will be taking place at the National Housing Federation’s annual conference in London in September.

Young Leaders competition, sponsored by Rooftop Housing, is now in its eighth year and is seeking to find the brightest young talent in the sector.

Here are the finalists, with a round-up of their vision, and judges’ comments on their performance.


Katie Howells, age 27, Merthyr Valleys Homes

Katie spoke passionately about creating “an offer” for young people, using examples from Merthyr to show there are some cases where rents are more than double the LHA rate.

She called for a Young Person’s Advisory Panel and for an introduction of flexible renting models for those who are either on zero hours contracts or struggling to hold down a job.

Judges praised the ideas and her passion for getting things done, saying she is someone “you would like to have fighting for you”.


Helen Florence, age 26, Longhurst Group

Creating Wellbeing Centres was at the heart of Helen’s vision for improving the sector, allowing tenants to go somewhere and receive the support they need without the stigma of visiting a hospital. A key part of this was to build strong local partnerships, something Helen said she was already doing.

She also pitched Training Houses, where young people could go to a house being built and learn how to paint and decorate, plus give them training for independent living such as meter readings.

Judges praised her attitude of “getting it done” and that her presentation showed a real vision and joined-up thinking.


Rebecca Simpson, age 25, Incommunities

“Why as a sector are we still waiting to be led?” was a question posed by Rebecca and she went on that tangent, calling for associations to be in control of their own destiny.

She also called for “people-powered leadership” and said that associations must start empowering frontline staff and tenants to change the way their businesses are run.

Judges praised her focus on empowering frontline staff, saying the discontent in the sector is sometimes painfully obvious and is right to need changing.


Angelina Lord, age 25, Accord Group

In her nomination, Angelina was described as “tenacious” and the judges knew that straight away. A powerful presentation that urged the sector to do more with partnerships and joint working.

She said the sector must embrace showing vulnerability and that there is no harm in local housing associations coming together to help each other out.

Judges were keen to highlight her presence when delivering her pitch, with a readiness to do something different and to break the rules also scoring her into the final five.


Shannice James-McFee, age 28, Network Homes

Focusing on how associations can help get tenants who are already in work to better themselves and move up the career ladder, Shannice hit on a different tone.

She said associations could do more with local partners offering free or cheap courses, as well as working with lenders and banks to help tenants save for a home of their own if they aspire to do so.

Judges said she hit a high note with a personal touch in the presentation, as well as delivering an idea that the panel felt had real legs.

The judges would like to thank all 10 of the participants for their hard work, not only on the day, but in the lead up to it. The presentations were fascinating and it was not an easy choice to choose the final five.

24housing would also like to thank the judges: David Orr, Vanessa Howell, Molly Bishop and John Rockley.

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