Mediaworks Goes Global With Record-Breaking Short Course

Award-winning digital agency Mediaworks and York St John University have received over 2,500 applications from across the world in just 10 days for their Virtual Digital Marketing short course.

At the beginning of May, Mediaworks and York St John University agreed to produce and deliver a shortened introductory version of their MSc course.

With businesses closed and social distancing a reality for the foreseeable future, both organisations agreed that one of the keys to an economic bounce-back would be the ability for businesses to diversify and deliver their products and services through an online presence.

The aim of the course was to give people the basic skills and understanding of digital marketing and the value of a successful online presence.

Brett Jacobson, Chief Executive Officer at Mediaworks, said: “This course was designed for businesses, professionals, graduates, marketers, and workers from all backgrounds who had been affected by the recent pandemic. As lockdown restrictions begin to lift and we return to operating in what has been labelled as the new normal, it’s key that we give people the skills to deliver products and services across both online and offline channels. Those skills will give people the ability to overcome the challenges that social distancing presents so that we are prepared to continue to operate and grow our businesses in the face of any future disruption.

“The attraction of the course across all channels has been above and beyond what we expected. We received applications from a wide range of people, from Managing Directors, furloughed workers, students, and people looking to re-skill. Following traction from our social media channels we were also pleased to see interest from as far afield as Denver, Melbourne, and Singapore.”

Bob Gammie, Dean of the York Business School, said: “We are blown away with the volume of applicants we have received for this short course. Over 2,500 learners applying in 10 days is a record number. Working collaboratively with a marketing agency such as Mediaworks has shown the power of reach you can achieve in such a short time with the right marketing, high quality learning, and innovative delivery models that combine to provide open and meaningful learning experiences.”

With the overwhelming success of the digital marketing short course, Mediaworks and York St John University will be hosting further short courses over the next 12 months.

More information about the short course and MSc can be found at the official website.

Housing’s role in the North’s economic and social recovery

What role should housing play in the North’s economic and social recovery from Covid-19?  Over the last month, the NHC has worked with our members and GC Consulting to think through the economic and social impacts of Covid-19 on the North of England, and consider the ways housing can contribute to the North’s recovery, interact with Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda, and build for the future.

Through discussions with our member-led board, an interactive workshop with a cross-section of our membership, and a webinar open to all members, we have built a shared understanding of the likely economic outlook; and the implications for housing in the North and the communities we serve.   We’ve identified some key ways that housing could contribute to the North’s economic and social recovery, which we intend to develop into a clear suite of offers and asks.

A consultation document was sent to lead contacts at each NHC member on Friday 22nd May.  This document collates the discussions we have had with members to date and invites your views on potential recovery options.  If you have not received the consultation document and would like to contribute views, please contact

We are inviting comments until Friday June 5th, after which we will incorporate your views, and further analysis, into propositions we will share with Government and the North’s political leaders. We are grateful to members for their support to date, and look forward to supporting you as the North moves into the recovery phase of this crisis.

Lockdown and housing conditions : new research project

The NHC is delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Huddersfield on a new research project which will explore the impact of Northerner’s homes on their experience of lockdown. This will include issues like the standard and quality of homes, overcrowding and access to outdoor space.

The research team will undertake interviews with residents, and professionals working in agencies across the North of England.  At present, we want to speak to private renters and owner-occupiers, with an initial focus in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.


There are two ways we would welcome support from NHC members:

Firstly, in helping us access potential suitable residents who may be willing to participate in an interview, which should take around 45 minutes.  This will take place at a mutually agreeable time either over the phone or via video call. All information collected during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential. You can help us access residents by sharing news about the study and asking residents to fill in the online form at

Secondly, the research team are looking to speak to professionals who interact with or support residents in lower quality PRS or owner-occupied housing.  This might include those working for local councils or people in other agencies councils work with.  These interviews should take around 45 minutes via phone or video call. Like the resident interviews, all information collected during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential, and any information about you which leaves the University will have your name, and any other personal details, removed so that you cannot be recognised. If you are happy to support us or would like to discuss this further, then please contact Prof. Phil Brown :

This project forms part of the NHC’s work to build an evidence base on the issues that matter for housing in the North. The research team will draw on both sets of conversations to prepare a report to make the case for change. The NHC will use the findings as part of our efforts to make housing policy work for the North. We realise this is an incredibly busy time for everyone, but any assistance you can provide would be very much appreciated.

Safe at home? Property standards during lockdown

This pandemic has shown just how much we all need a safe and secure home to retreat to. But for some of us, staying at home means spending more time in accommodation that does not meet basic standards of decency, risking the health and wellbeing of millions of Northerners. Northern Housing Consortium Member Engagement Officer Matthew Wilson looks at what the data tells us about the homes people have spent lockdown in.

1.3million homes – 1 in 5 homes across the North – fail to meet relatively basic quality standards, and half of all non-decent accommodation is home to someone more vulnerable to the pandemic.

Putting this right means rethinking our approach to housing. After the pandemic passes, we need to invest in the quality of the North’s homes, making them fit for the future and ensuring everyone has a safe and secure home to retreat to when we need to.

A Northern picture

Of these 1 in 5 homes in the North – some 1.3million abodes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard – almost half are in the North West region[1]. Rates of non-decency however are highest in Yorkshire and the Humber, where 22% of homes fail to meet the standard. The North East fares best, reflecting higher levels of social housing in the region, where standards are higher overall.

While there is clearly an uneven geography, analysis by tenure presents starker contrasts. Non-decency is most acute among the North’s private rented homes, where more than a quarter of homes fail to meet the decent homes standard. These conditions will compound effects of the pandemic, with quality issues compiling pressure on renters who have also faced concerns about their security of tenure and ability to pay the rent.

Worryingly, the most common reason for Northern homes failing the Decent Homes Standard was the presence of a category one hazard: one that presents serious and immediate risks to a person’s health. These were found in more than 1 in 10 Northern homes in the 2017 English Housing Survey[2], an annual survey of homes conducted for the Government, which includes physical inspection of thousands of properties across the country.

Decent Home Standard

The Decent Homes Standard is a relatively basic minimum standard established by the Government in the early 2000s.  The standard examines four criteria, checking whether homes are: free of ‘category one hazards’ – the most dangerous type of hazard, which present serious and immediate risks to a person’s health; in a reasonable state of repair – e.g. none of the key components (such as the windows, central heating boiler, electrics) require repair or replacement; has reasonably modern facilities and services – e.g. a kitchen with adequate space and layout, an appropriately located bathroom and WC; and provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort – e.g. the homes has efficient heating and effective insulation.

Housing standards and the pandemic

It is wrong that at a time when we’re all being asked to spend more time at home, so many of our fellow Northerners are living in accommodation that doesn’t meet minimum standards.

Poor quality housing has negative consequences for our health, placing additional strain on our health service both in the short-term, through injury from immediate hazards, and in the longer-term, with poor quality housing exacerbating health conditions, the presence of damp is known to be linked to respiratory diseases for example.

Poor quality homes also cost more to run, placing an unjust burden on the most vulnerable. We have perhaps been fortunate that the pandemic has struck in the spring, a time when we are not so reliant on heating to make our homes comfortable. Northern households are 10% more likely to live in fuel poverty than the rest of England[3].

What is so concerning in relation to the current pandemic is that half of the 1.3 million non-decent homes in the North is home to someone more vulnerable to the pandemic[4], someone aged over 65, with a long-term illness, or living with a disability. These are precisely the groups who are likely to live under lockdown or shielding for longer.

The problem of poor-quality housing is creating a problem for all of society. If we are to defeat COVID-19 we all rely on each other having a safe and secure place to retreat to. With homes contributing to ill health – or if people feel the need to spend longer outside their homes than would otherwise be essential – the? infections rate will be inflated, placing additional pressure on our NHS and threatening lives.

24% of all homes in the North were built before 1919 and 41% before 1944, above the England average of 37%[5]. In the North East, a quarter of all homes built before 1919 are non-decent, but this figure is a staggering 43% in the North West, and 47% in the Yorkshire and Humber. There has been a recent trend of the pace of Northern decent homes improvement stalling, with the North having the same proportion of England’s non-decent homes in 2017 than it did a decade earlier at 29%. We must focus our efforts on ensuring that the North has a housing stock fit for the future, redefining housing standards from an exacerbating factor of the pandemic to part of a progressive exit strategy, one which benefits the economy and the people of the region.

After the pandemic

As we plan our exit from the pandemic, our Government must act to invest in the quality of the North’s homes, making them fit for the future and ensuring everyone has a safe and secure home to retreat to when needed.

The NHC is calling on the Government to bring forward plans to decarbonise homes. We propose that the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grants pledged in the Conservative Election Manifesto is used as an immediate economic stimulus, creating jobs and upgrading homes across the North. In the longer term, a Housing Quality Investment Fund can be developed to level-up housing quality in the North. Such a fund would complement investment from councils and the private sector, targeting neighbourhoods with concentrations of poor-quality homes as a first step.


[1] Data from English Housing Survey stock condition 2017 AT2.7

[2] Data from English Housing Survey stock condition 2017 AT2.8

[3] Analysis for the NHC by the Smith Institute in 2018

[4]   Analysis for the NHC by the Smith Institute in 2018 showed that 48% of northern households in non-decent housing contained a resident (a ‘household reference person’) in one of these categories. More recent analysis suggests this has since risen to 51% of households in non-decent housing. We are grateful to the Smith Institute for their assistance with this analysis.

[5] Analysis for the NHC by the Smith Institute in 2018


Sector-wide campaign launched to help meet huge demand for emergency food parcels

Our Chief Executive, Tracy Harrison, supports new sector-wide campaign launched by Accent Housing to help the Trussell Trust meet huge demand for emergency food parcels.

Read more about the campaign on Accent Housing’s website.

Accent Housing has launched a nationwide campaign to raise £1m for the Trussell Trust, which is working with its network of food banks across the UK to support the rapidly increasing number of people unable to afford food as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The More than Homes campaign– backed by the National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute of Housing and the Northern Housing Consortium – will provide a huge boost for the UK-wide charity. Its network of food banks experienced an 81% surge in demand for its emergency food parcels during the final two weeks of March 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. The number of parcels given to children has soared by 122%.

The Trussell Trust runs a national network of 1,200 food banks with the help of more than 28,000 volunteers. Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, the charity was already responding to a 20-30% year-on-year increase in demand – but figures published last week suggest more people will be needing help than ever before in the coming months.

Three quarters (75%) of the money raised through the ‘More than Homes’ campaign will be distributed directly to local food banks.

The remaining 25% will be used by the Trussell Trust to fund nationwide support to help manage volunteers, refer people to food banks and distribute parcels directly to people’s doors, so food banks can continue to support people safely during the coming months.

The campaign – which has received support from a number of housing associations already – calls on the sector’s collective efforts to work together to help residents and the people in their communities experiencing hunger.

To find out more about the More than Homes campaign, please visit or email

To make a donation, please visit: