Prestigious Churchill Fellowships awarded to people working in Housing

Published: 6 Apr 2017

Prestigious Churchill Fellowships awarded to people working in Housing

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust has just awarded 10 Travelling Fellowships to people dedicated to developing new approaches to housing. The Churchill Fellows will investigate examples of effective approaches to the provision and design of housing in other countries, bringing back new ideas and positive change to their profession and community here in the UK.

According to statistics released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), only 32,110 affordable homes were delivered in England in 2015-16, 52% less than the previous year. This represents the lowest figure since the early 1990s.1

This is the second year of a partnership with the National Housing Federation. During this time 20 Fellowships have been awarded, an investment of over £126,525. Past projects include research into housing-related support for young people, strategies for 21st century homeless prevention and international perspectives on housing and domestic abuse.

This year’s Fellows are:

  • Dearbhaile Heaney, from Belfast, and founder of The Holding Project, who will be travelling to Finland, Sweden and the USA to research affordable housing initiatives for young people.
  • Darren Parker, from Stratford, and the Head of Development and Regeneration at a large social housing provider, who will be travelling to Canada and the USA to explore housing policies to provide young people with affordable homes to rent.
  • Oona Goldsworthy, a housing association Chief Executive from Bristol, who will be travelling to Australia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands to research ethical rented housing models for young people.
  • Edward Douglas, a Senior Policy and Projects Officer from Muswell Hill, who will be travelling to Canada and Sweden to study approaches to regenerating public housing estates.
  • Joanne McGrath, from Newcastle upon Tyne, and a Progression Coach at Crisis UK, who will be travelling to Norway and the USA to investigate approaches to preventing homelessness amongst ex-offenders.
  • Sophie Atkinson, a Housing Association Director from Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, who will be travelling to Canada and the USA to research innovative housing and care for people with learning disabilities.
  • Francesca Sanders, from Tooting, and a Project Lead at Innovation Unity, who will be travelling to Canada, Japan and the USA to study alternative community led models of housing for older people.
  • Sarah Walters, from Stockport, and a Development Manager at Shelter, who will be travelling to Canada and the USA to research re-housing solutions for vulnerable homeless women.
  • Tamsin Stirling, a freelance housing researcher from Cardiff, who will be travelling to Canada and the USA to investigate approaches to engaging communities in tackling youth homelessness.
  • Prasanna Kannan, from Hounslow, and the Co-Founder and Director of a property startup, who will be travelling to Denmark, Sweden and the USA to investigate cohousing as a response to a shortage of affordable housing.

Julia Weston, Chief Executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, said:

“Churchill Fellows travel globally and return with innovative ideas and a commitment to sharing their findings to help others in the UK. Our hope is that this research will enable the individuals we fund to promote change and improve access to social and affordable housing.”

James Prestwich, Head of Policy at the National Housing Federation, said:

“We are pleased to be supporting Churchill Fellows to research international best practice in the vital area of affordable housing.”

Fellow’s Case Study

Graham Russell, a housing association chair, travelled to Australia in 2013 and 2015 on his Churchill Travelling Fellowship to investigate community solutions for providing homes and supporting people at risk of homelessness.

During his Fellowship, he explored different approaches to better integrating housing, health and care services for people with complex needs.

After returning to the UK, Graham was involved in setting up a number of initiatives in the housing sector. These included a homelessness project in Gloucester providing more collaborative working between housing organisations, health bodies and the police, and programmes providing affordable housing for particular needs, such as the traveller community. He also established new ways of increasing the supply of affordable housing, including working in partnership with other housing associations.

1. LocalGov

Notes to Editors

The National Housing Federation

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. For more information, visit