Funded Travelling Fellowships to support New Approaches to Social and Affordable Housing

Published: 11 May 2016

Funded Travelling Fellowships to support New Approaches to Social and Affordable Housing

In 2017, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust will be investing around £1.3 million in British citizens, by awarding 150 Travelling Fellowships.

This will directly support British citizens who want to travel overseas to gain knowledge, experience and best practice to benefit others in their UK professions and communities, and society as a whole.

Travelling Fellowships will be awarded in the New Approaches to Social and Affordable Housing category, and the application process is now open.

The income of an average first-time buyer today (£36,500) is nearly double that of an average first-time buyer in the early 1980s (£20,000), after accounting for inflation1. With home ownership now unattainable for a significant proportion of the population, it’s clear that new ideas are required to make housing more affordable.

For the second year, the New Approaches to Social and Affordable Housing Fellowships will run in a partnership with the National Housing Federation. Since the start of this partnership, 10 Fellowships have been awarded in this category, an investment of over £60,000 in British citizens.

Applications would be welcomed from people involved in housing design and provision. People working to improve opportunities for those excluded from the housing market, and those who contribute to safer and healthier communities, are also encouraged to apply.

Projects could include researching new initiatives for community participation, design, standards, tenure options, and older people and those with complex needs. Subsequent changes required to legislation, planning regulations and financial models should be considered, as well as innovative ideas to move towards zero carbon housing solutions.

Vic O’Brien was the Development Director of a housing association when he was awarded his Fellowship in 2013. Concerned about the severe shortage of affordable housing in the UK, he travelled to the USA to investigate the American tax credit system for low income housing. The affordable housing funding system in the USA does not use grants and instead works by attracting private equity investment from mainly financial institutions in return for a reduction in their tax liability over a 10 year period. This system is complex and not well-known by UK housing professionals. Since returning from his Fellowship, Vic has briefed finance officers of the National Housing Federation (NHF), and the NHF Finance advisory panel, which is made up of a number of finance directors of housing associations. He has also held seminars at the Chartered Institute of Housing, and has spoken at a number of NHF conferences, as well as a conference on international finance. A significant number of researchers, policy workers, and central government officers have requested briefings as they consider policy options for the production of affordable housing.

Among those travelling this year, in this category, are:

  • Adam Melia, a foyer manager from Chester. He will be travelling to North America and Australia to explore new approaches to housing-related support for young people.
  • Maria Lucey, a sales and business support supervisor from Norwich, who will be travelling to the Netherlands to learn from innovation in Dutch Social Housing.

Successful applicants must demonstrate the commitment, the character and the tenacity to travel globally in pursuit of new and better ways of tackling a wide range of current challenges facing the UK, and upon their return work to transform and improve aspects of today’s society.

A travelling sabbatical for people with the drive, determination and desire to help others, can further their leadership and role model abilities.

Employees who are awarded Fellowships bring great benefits to their employers, not only in terms of the positive impact on their personal development, but also with the advantage of their enhanced knowledge, new ideas and examples of best practice that they bring back to the organisation.

Applications are judged purely on project merit, and these opportunities are available to all UK residents over the age of 18, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Successful applicants will receive an average Fellowship grant of over £6,000, covering return airfare, daily living costs, insurance and travel within the countries being visited, for approximately six weeks overseas.

Notes to Editors

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established shortly after Sir Winston’s death in 1965, as his national memorial and living legacy. Since then it has awarded over 5,250 Travelling Fellowships.

The application process for travel in 2017 is now open, and there are 14 varied categories in which people can apply.

Churchill’s beliefs and passions are still living on through the Fellows – who are remarkable individuals, representing a wide range of backgrounds, qualifications, interests and professions, but sharing the desire to do something for the improvement of individuals and communities in the UK.

The deadline for the 2017 applications is 5pm on Tuesday 20th September 2016.

In total 150 Fellowships were awarded in the UK in 2016, an investment of over £1.4 million. The Fellows are currently travelling to 52 countries between them, across 6 continents, carrying out a wide range of projects.

To maximise the impact of the Fellowships partnerships have been developed with other organisations, focused on specific areas of concern and relevance for the UK today. Lessons learnt from overseas travel are effectively coordinated and disseminated, and incorporated into best practice in the UK for the benefit of others in similar communities and professions.

The National Housing Federation is the trade body for housing associations in England. It believes that everyone should have the home they need at a price they can afford. It represents the work of housing associations and campaigns for better housing. Its members provide two and a half million homes for more than five million people and each year they invest in a diverse range of neighbourhood projects that help create strong, vibrant communities. They will assist our Fellows with the dissemination of the lessons learnt to policy makers and other relevant groups and individuals.

For further information about the National Housing Federation, visit


1. From Home Truths 2014 –Broken Market Broken Dreams, National Housing Federation, September 2014