Helen Ankrah, Alumna, BA (Hons) Housing Studies and MSc in Charity Marketing and Fundraising
After studying charity marketing and housing studies at LSBU, Helen went on to become the Managing Director of African Social Housing (ASH) Limited
Helen is the Managing Director of Consult Alliance of African Social Housing (ConsultASH) Limited, Founder of the Conference for Housing Excellence and Head of Ghana Institute of Housing (GIH). read how she took the knowledge she gained from LSBU and applied it to her home.
How it began
A colleague recommended I study at LSBU as it was known at the time as the best university for delivering the Housing Studies programme. I enjoyed my time there so much that I stayed on to complete the MSc programme. I was already working in the housing department at Lewisham Homes as a Tenancy-Plus Officer, and I needed to gain the degree qualification for career progression.
I continued to work with Lewisham Homes after I graduated, but also started work on transferring the knowledge and experience I acquired to Africa. In November 2012 I set up the GIH and worked hard to attain the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) accreditation.
There are so many lecturing staff I remember from LSBU - Diane Paice, Alan Winter, and Claudette Hunt, just to name a few.
In 2015 Diane was nominated by the School of Law to attend my Conference for Housing Excellence, an annual housing campaign platform with discussions on housing issues. During the school’s 2016 bid for Knowledge Transfer, I was invited by Alan to join and assist the academic team on a programme, although that programme never took off.
LSBU and lecturers, particularly Diane, have really made me who I am today - a very proud alumna. Lecturers regularly refer students to me for career advice and guidance. My advice to LSBU students is always to have passion and dedication for whatever they find themselves doing. I tell them to think outside the box and to see how they can transfer knowledge to make an impact on the lives of those who need it most.
To make a difference
Every role I have taken on was part of the journey to make a difference within the Ghana housing system. Apart from my own conference and GIH initiatives and drive, I was also part of a group of UK-based housing professionals who came together under the umbrella of Nigerian-UK Housing Society. We who secured funding from the African Development Bank to build capacity in housing. I was the Project Officer for Ghana, and my remit was to set up a Centre for Housing Studies at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). This was achieved in 2015 and 9 KNUST Lecturers were vetted to become Members of CIH, UK. The Centre also became a CIH accredited Centre to deliver housing degrees and research programmes, which was a great achievement.
I love what I do. To be able to impart knowledge by setting up a professional body doubling up as a CIH accredited training centre brings me great joy. So not much holds me back, but needing finances to carry out these conference activities is always stressful.
Year in and year out I look back and wonder how the previous year was successful because the preparation stage never looked hopeful. What keeps me motivated is making an impact on people’s lives, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity.
10,000-house building pilot
At the moment, lack of funds and exhaustion has caused me to the Homes for all Project (H4A) on hold as it needs further assessment research, data collection, and analysis to understand the real need of the housing shortage. So I can further help government ministries such as Housing, Local Government and others to work together to prepare for a 10,000-house building pilot.
I want to see the people of Africa, particularly Ghana’s 85% of the middle to low-income groups, have access to basic housing facilities. The thought of not being able to execute the H4A Project in Ghana scares me but when I am speaking on the subject of housing issues whether in the area of housing law, policy or management issues, I feel powerful and know I can make change happen.
I’ve been too busy to relax and read, so the last book I read was actually the 2015 National Housing Policy, which was Ghana’s first ever written and launched housing policy. It was a great read.
Connect with Helen on LinkedIn
Helen Ankrah has been profiled as Alumni of the Month for April 2019. Check out our current Alumni of the Month