The foundations for a career in housing

As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations we’re speaking to staff past and present to find out what they think about working at the NHC. This month we spoke to Anna Seddon, who worked in our Policy & Public Affairs team until 2022. She is now Senior Public Affairs Officer at Citizens Advice.


When did you start at the NHC, what were your roles and what are you doing now?

I started as Policy and Public Affairs Assistant in 2019, became Policy and Public Affairs Officer in 2020 then Policy and Public Affairs Manager in 2022.

I’m now the Senior Public Affairs Officer in the national Citizens’ Advice team leading on net zero homes and working with the team across other areas such as cost of living and General Election planning


Could you reflect on your time at the NHC and what your favourite things about working here were?

My three years at the NHC working across research, political engagement, comms, and Executive support, were brilliant. Those years were a really exciting time to be working on housing policy (though of course it always is!). After the 2019 election, the levelling up agenda had presented regions in the North with a golden opportunity to haul housing up the political agenda and the NHC team grabbed it with both hands. And of course the team were all a complete joy to work with, and they all had a huge amount of expertise in their area.


What were some of the projects or campaigns you worked on while you were at the NHC?

The most exciting project I worked on was the growth of the net zero homes workstream. It was decided by the team early in my time at the NHC that this area should become a major part of the NHC’s policy and influencing work. There was so much enthusiasm to develop a major programme of work on home retrofit, from creating a detailed theory of change to turning that into action across the region. It was a real team effort to build a strong position on energy efficiency and identify the areas the NHC could make the most difference.

From the programme’s inception, I loved working on such an important and lively area of policy and illustrating to policymakers the harmful impact of poorly insulated homes, especially as energy bills were starting to rocket and evidence of people living in cold homes grew. It’s great to see the NHC still do brilliant work on this, and something I continue to work on in my current job!


How do you think working at the NHC helped you in your career?

Personal development was taken incredibly seriously at the NHC and I always felt supported to get involved in all sorts of different projects and encouraged to go for different opportunities. This culture meant I learned a huge amount from teams within the organisation, as well as from colleagues across the NHC’s membership. I also gained a formal CIH qualification during my time through the GEM programme which I hope to continue to build on in the future (it seemed to be a recurring joke at housing events that once you work in housing policy you never leave and that’s now easy to foresee!).


What would you say to someone who was considering working for the NHC?

I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage someone to apply for any role at the NHC – you’re guaranteed to be in a lovely team dedicated to delivering the very best for members and their communities. If you’re early in your career, I would double my encouragement!


In 2021, you wrote an article for the NHC website about the importance of putting housing at the heart of a place-based approach to post-lockdown neighbourhood renewal. Do you think the North has made progress on this?

I’d say the biggest shift since then is that housing issues now sit at the centre of political discussion, whereas as we know they haven’t always occupied space in those conversations. It seems the next General Election will take place within this context and that’s a massive win for the NHC and wider housing sector who have tenaciously made the case for housing and its wider role in our lives, communities, and the local and national economy. Whoever forms the next Government has a long list of urgent housing issues to grasp: increasing the supply of social homes, improving energy efficiency across tenures, bringing forward long-awaited renters’ reforms, to name only a few. It’s another huge opportunity for the North to keep shifting the dial on housing.

I’m sure we could write another long list of the opportunities around housing that have been missed by the Government since the pandemic, but this is a celebratory interview so I’ll leave that to the current NHC team for another time – happy 50th anniversary, NHC!