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Reel Homes film competition

Let’s create a Cathy Come Home for the 21st century, says Martin Hilditch

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CATHY AT 50 200px

To mark the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach’s seminal film, Inside Housing has launched a competition for young film-makers to produce a Cathy Come Home for the 21st century.

The competition invites film-makers to submit a synopsis and test footage for a film about homelessness and the impact of the housing crisis. The films can be in any genre, fact or fiction, as long as they address the central theme. The competition is chiefly aimed at undergraduate, postgraduate and newly qualified film-makers, but it is also open to other new film-makers.

New voices

The aim is to showcase the best new film-makers in the industry and give the winning entrant the chance to develop their idea. The winning film will be entered in at least one film festival.

Emma Maier, editor of Inside Housing, says that the goal is for the competition to give new film-makers a start in the industry - and raise the profile of the housing crisis at the same time.

“The Reel Homes film competition will help showcase the work of new talent in the film industry and result in new voices talking about the housing crisis for the first time.

“The competition will offer new insight into one of the most important issues facing individuals and families across the UK. I can’t wait to find out what the next generation of film-makers has to say.”

Read Emma Maier’s editorial on the Cathy at 50 campaign here.

The winner will be picked by a panel of both housing and film-making professionals and win a £1,500 cash prize. They will also receive funding to help develop a final short film, which will receive a public showing and wider promotion. We’ve raised more than £10,000 so far - and want to say a massive thank you to our housing association backers, including the Homes for Cathy campaign group (see comment piece by David Bogle). Without them the competition would not have been possible.

We encourage readers to help plug the competition with colleges and universities locally to help make sure we get entries looking at the crisis from across the UK.

For more information, or to take part, visit

A generation of film-makers can put housing on the public’s radar, says David Bogle


It is 50 years since Ken Loach’s film Cathy Come Home was first shown by the BBC and shocked a nation into action. Within months Shelter and Crisis had been formed and housing associations had been set up all over the country with the aim of helping homeless people access affordable housing.

Many of those housing associations are still around 50 years later, having built hundreds of thousands of affordable homes to rent - but still there are people living on the streets and in B&Bs. Shelter estimates 120,000 children will spend this Christmas in temporary accommodation.

Twenty-three of those original 1960/70s charitable housing associations have come together to form the Homes for Cathy group. Working with Cardboard Citizens theatre group, local cinemas, politicians, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and others, Homes for Cathy has organised a programme of events to mark the film’s 50th anniversary, aiming to raise awareness of the homelessness crisis and to highlight the need for more homes and support for homeless people. We have produced an education pack to help teachers introduce the subject to teenagers in a structured and informed way.

Housing associations need to continue to help local authorities to fulfil their statutory duties to house homeless families. The need for affordable rented accommodation is as great as it has ever been and we cannot do enough to keep this issue high on the political agenda and in the minds of the public.

For that reason, Homes for Cathy is delighted to help fund Inside Housing’s film competition, which invites young film-makers to produce a 21st century Cathy Come Home. So much great work has been done as a result of Ken Loach’s film - let’s inspire a future generation to take up the baton.

David Bogle, chief executive, Hightown Housing Association

Reel Homes: backers

  • Accent
  • Aldwyck
  • Arches
  • Axiom
  • Bournemouth Churches Housing Association
  • Brighter Futures
  • Broadland
  • Bromford
  • Community Gateway
  • Connect
  • Croydon Churches Housing Association
  • Cynon Taf
  • EMH Homes
  • Family Mosaic
  • Halton Housing
  • Hastoe
  • Hexagon
  • Hightown Housing
  • Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association
  • Liverpool Housing Trust
  • Network
  • North Star
  • Nottingham Community Housing Association
  • Orbit
  • Placeshapers
  • Richmond Housing Partnership
  • Riverside
  • Shepherds Bush
  • South Liverpool Homes
  • South Yorkshire Housing
  • St Vincent’s
  • Trafford Housing Trust
  • Tyne
  • Wandle
  • Wulvern


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