Meet the new Chair and Vice Chair of the NHF’s Smaller Housing Association Network

25 April 2024

The NHF’s Smaller Housing Association Network has appointed Helena Evans as its new Chair, and Rebecca Clarke as its new Vice Chair.

Helena replaces Jesse Fajemisin, who chaired the network for over a year. 

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chair and want to thank those I have worked with across the sector and at the NHF," says Jesse. 

"I have particularly enjoyed driving engaging member discussions with the Regulator and Housing Ombudsman across various conferences and webinars, as well as representing smaller housing associations nationally as part of a Better Social Housing Review recommendation working group.

Part of the role involves ensuring the voice of smaller housing associations is heard with key stakeholders. With Mount Green now being part of the Stonewater Group, I feel it is more appropriate for someone from a smaller housing association to hold this position at such a key time in the sector.

Congratulations to Helen - I wish her all the best in the role.”

Helena has worked in the housing sector for nearly 30 years across a whole range of social and supported housing provision, covering many geographical areas in England.

Over the last eight years, she has worked for smaller housing associations in the Midlands and North-West as chief executive.

Rebecca Clarke currently works for a small, specialist supported housing provider accommodating people with severe learning disabilities and mental health conditions. She is also an independent Board Member at Phoenix Community Housing and a House of Stonewall Champion for Stonewall Housing, who support LGBTQ+ homeless people.

Helena Evans, Chief Executive of Westfield Housing Association, says:

“I'm really delighted to become the new Chair of the NHF's Smaller Housing Associations Network.

I am very passionate about the positive contribution that smaller housing associations make to communities and residents’ lives each day.

That’s why I’m so keen to continue to champion the sector, the voice of our residents, and carry on the excellent work that Jesse Fajemisin started in his tenure as network chair.  

I whole-heartedly back the work of the NHF, which has supported housing associations over the years and continues to be the sector’s voice during some very challenging times.

In my new role I hope to help the NHF represent members' views on a range of national issues and look forward to working with different people to promote the sector’s amazing work, share good practice, encourage collaboration, and celebrate our achievements.”


Rebecca Clarke, Head of Operations at First Priority Housing Association, says:

“As the new Vice Chair of the NHF's Smaller Housing Associations Network, I hope to work with members to ensure the voice of smaller providers is heard in the latest policy debates and developments.

As someone who is motivated by purpose and making a difference, I believe working for a smaller provider offers greater opportunity for this to happen.

It’s not without its challenges though, particularly operationally. Complying with new and emerging regulation can be difficult due to scale and resources, and commercially it can be tricky to compete with larger providers.

But there’s so much diversity, uniqueness and opportunity in smaller providers that make a real difference to their residents’ lives – I believe collectively we can be even stronger together.”