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One of our very own Foyer Managers, Helen Florence, has made it to the final round of the National Housing Federation’s Young Leaders Award. Helen is the Manager of Wisbech Foyer and was one of ten people who were shortlisted to present their ideas on how they would change the housing sector for the better.

Having impressed the judges, Helen made it to the final round of the competition alongside four other people. The Young Leaders competition aims to find the brightest young talent in the sector – and we are delighted to host this talent within our network.

We caught up with Helen to find out more about the ideas she pitched that took her to the final of the competition.

Wellbeing Centres

The first of Helen’s ideas was Wellbeing Centres – supported housing environments, such as hostels and Foyers – where local agencies can provide drop ins for residents. These agencies would include counsellors, drink and drug agencies, bereavement services, domestic violence agencies, money management services, job coaches, and more.  

During her time as Manager of Wisbech Foyer, Helen has become qualified as a mental health first aider and said that this made her “think of different ways to support people with mental health issues”, leading to her coming up with the idea of the Wellbeing Centres.

Helen explained: “The Wellbeing Centres would reduce the waiting lists for support and hopefully offer the public the support they need, without them having to attend a medical centre.”

Training Flats

Helen’s second idea was centred around having rooms that are connected to the Wellbeing Centres described above. The Training Flats would not get any rental income and would have staff support service users with practical skills, such as changing lightbulbs, building shelves, painting and decorating. The Training Flats would also have an electric meter, stop cock and a gas box, which would allow residents to learn how to top up electric and gas, as well as how to take accurate readings.

Helen said: “This will prepare the residents to live independently and potentially, in the future, reduce void costs because residents will be looking after their properties better. Companies will, therefore, be able to turn properties around quicker as they should be in a better state of repair.”

Road to the final

According to 24housing, the “judges praised Helen’s attitude of ‘getting it done’ and [said] that her presentation showed a real vision and joined-up thinking”. She is now set to join the other four finalists at the National Housing Federation’s annual conference in September, where the winner will be revealed.

“I was very pleased to get into the final five,” Helen said. “I am grateful for the opportunity and I’m looking forward to the final.”

From all of us at The Foyer Federation, we wish Helen the best of luck!


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