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Bonus episode Housing and me: A Mayor’s view

In this special bonus episode of Raising the roof we take a close look at housing in West Yorkshire and how we can work together to better our homes and communities.

Our CEO and host Nick Atkin is joined by Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, and Helen Lennon, Chief Executive at Connect Housing and Chair of the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership.

Episode highlights

Commenting on what change she’d like to bring for the people of West Yorkshire through her role, Tracy says: “West Yorkshire has had it tougher [over the past 18 months] than other communities … I would like life to be easier for those who find life hard. Whether that’s being able to get a warm and safe home to live in or being able to get the bus home in time to pick up your kids.” Tracy goes on to add: “I’m hoping West Yorkshire is the go-to place when choosing where to live and work.”

Reflecting on how the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership will support Tracy’s manifesto pledge to build 5,000 affordable homes, Helen says: “There’s 13 of us in the partnership … We’re very diverse … and [all operate as] not for profit, so the money we make is put back into homes and communities … We have quite a lot of capacity to help deliver those 5,000 homes.”

Speaking about her own housing story, Tracy touched upon the importance of having a safe and secure home: “We [as politicians] take our own life experiences into politics … [Growing up] my dad was a salesman, so permanently in and out of work … [It got to the point where we] couldn’t pay the mortgage so my mum handed in the keys, and we were effectively homeless so threw ourselves at the mercy of the council … We got a two-bedroom flat in Birstall … that gave us a secure home and we didn’t have to worry about where we’d put our heads that night.” Tracy follows this up by saying: “A secure home is the bedrock for everything. The right housing at the right price and in the right place.”

One of Tracy’s key manifesto pledges is to address the climate emergency, something that is also a key ambition of the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership. On this, Helen says: “We [the partnership] have 170,000 properties between us, so by working together we can do our bit to contribute to tackle the climate emergency and create new jobs and skills in the region … The partnership has already started working with Tracy to look at a joint bid to bring investment into the region [to help with decarbonising homes].”

Housing & me: A Mayor's view

by Yorkshire Housing

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About the host

About the host

Nick Atkin, CEO at Yorkshire Housing

Nick has a track record of leading organisations through transformational change and driving performance improvement, with a focus on maximising the untapped potential from businesses and people.

Born and brought up in Doncaster he joined Yorkshire Housing in 2019. Since this time, he’s delivered transformational change throughout the business to meet the future opportunities and challenges.

About the guests

About the guests

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

Tracy is a British Labour and Co-operative politician who was elected as the first Mayor of West Yorkshire, and the first ever woman Metro Mayor in May 2021.

Tracy was born and raised in Batley, Yorkshire. She was the Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen from 2016 until 2021, representing her hometown and the area where many of her family still live. As MP, she held appointments as Shadow Early Years Minister, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Minister for Cultural Industries.

Before entering politics she worked in the entertainment industry for three decades, working as an actor and appearing in several soaps, including Coronation Street, Eastenders, Casualty and Emmerdale. As well as acting, Tracy also wrote for a number of TV programmes such as Shameless, Heartbeat, Hollyoaks and Tracy Beaker.

Helen Lennon, CEO at Connect Housing and Chair of West Yorkshire Housing Partnership

Helen has worked in homelessness and housing for over 30 years and has loved every minute of it. She was previously a tenant of Connect Housing, where she’s now chief executive.

Helen also chairs the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership, which is collaborative group made up of all the main housing providers from across West Yorkshire.

Helen is passionate about social housing having grown up in a council house in the North West. Right now, the climate emergency is a key driver for Helen.