By Harry Scoffin
Last Thursday evening saw National Leasehold Campaign co-founders Katie Kendrick, Jo Darbyshire and Cath Williams gather with fellow activists to celebrate their achievements at the glitzy Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.
The three working mothers are the unpaid, volunteer leaders of the Facebook-powered social movement. Ably supported by a small group of moderators who actively police the content, they have grown it to over 15,000 registered supporters.
The Facebook group has been used to direct leaseholders of both houses and flats to complete the countless public consultations on reform since it went live in January 2017.
In the government’s response to the most recent call for evidence, for example, the then Communities Secretary James Brokenshire credited the sheer volume of responses from individual leaseholders for persuading him of the need for peppercorn ground rents on new-build apartments.
LKP recognises the critical role the National Leasehold Campaign played in driving engagement with this consultation, the results of which will lead to the biggest change to land law in this country since 1925.
The National Leasehold Campaign has also been responsible for organising an influential Victoria Derbyshire feature on leasehold’s mental health impact as well as the extensive press coverage for its newly-published conveyancing report.
Emirates Old Trafford played host to the prestigious Women in Housing awards, the seventh year Inside Housing has run the event.
The venue saw housing association and charity workers hobnob with the occasional big name developer and managing agent.
LKP understands that leaseholders collectively thought it was important that the National Leasehold Campaign were represented at the awards and, in a clear illustration of people power at its best, crowdfunded to raise the funds within just forty-eight hours.
Unsurprisingly, the team left the conference hall empty handed – despite having managed to be shortlisted for an impressive three awards.
The National Leasehold Campaign lost the Team of the Year gong to Galliford Try.
Without a hint of irony, the developer was introduced as having a communications team “driving cultural change across the industry”. (Galliford Try was caught up in the leasehold houses scandal.)
For the Marketing or Communications Initiative and Improving the Lives of Women or Communities categories, the National Leasehold Campaign lost to youth homelessness charity BACKUP and council-backed housing body Homes for Haringey, respectively.
A number of those who won awards on the night heartily deserve them.
But almost everyone who won an award is being paid to do a good job – something very different to three women holding down high-powered jobs yet sacrificing hours of family time to campaign against exploitation in the grisly leasehold sector … for free.
Ms Kendrick travelled down to the capital on Monday, where she represented the National Leasehold Campaign at the Women of the Year Lunch.
The nominating council selected her and 449 other inspirational women to attend the event after having been contacted by the ethical developer Steward Moxon, of Hopton Build.
The lunch has been held since 1955, and stands apart from similar events for going into the heart of communities and workplaces to find the women whose achievements are unsung:
“Each guest is regarded as a ‘Woman of the Year’, representing herself, her work and the millions of extraordinary women who make a difference every day. In a world which often celebrates ‘celebrity’, Women of the Year sets itself apart by honouring real achievement and diversity.
At the Lunch, a bishop sits with a farmer, a financier with a community worker and a famous actor with a health care worker. There are no divisions.
The legacy of each lunch is outstanding. New friendships are formed, support networks founded and better understanding engendered.”
Former prime minister Theresa May, Met chief Cressida Dick, broadcaster Angela Rippon, EastEnders favourite Tamzin Outhwaite and presenter Lorraine Kelly were among the luminaries who joined the celebrations.
Speaking to LKP, Ms Kendrick said she was touched to have been invited to attend the Women of the Year Lunch. “For me it wasn’t really about winning any awards, but representing the millions of ordinary people caught up in the leasehold property trap,” she added.