‘It’s an incredible community to live in and I’m fortunate enough to be a part of it’ - Samuel, Dot Dot Dot guardian

8 September 2020 | Our clients | Back to Blog

How Dot Dot Dot can bring value to your area: working with Soha in Henley-on-Thames

Mount View Court is an over-55s sheltered housing estate in Henley-on-Thames, made up of 50 flats in total. It is owned by Soha, a housing association working in South Oxfordshire.

Since October 2019, Dot Dot Dot has worked with Soha whilst the estate goes through a period of regeneration, to sensitively and effectively house guardians into empty properties. 

Social impact is at the core of what we do at Dot Dot Dot. We have extensive experience of working with housing associations to secure properties in complex sheltered housing environments, and we only house the most reliable guardians to ensure the transition is as mindful and secure as possible.

 

1. Staggered setup process

During this time of transition, we have worked closely with Soha to develop a management plan that not only provides security for their empty assets, but is also sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders. As a housing association, Soha’s first duty of care is to their residents, so it was important to minimise risk and take the needs of those who still reside in the estate into account. 

We identified three flats which would allow us to house guardians quickly and safely, for an initial three month pilot. The pilot has been a success, and we have an agreement in place with Soha to introduce more guardians in the coming weeks and months.

Using a staggered approach allowed us to secure the properties in a timely way, whilst also ensuring a smooth transition for the estate’s current residents.

 

2. Careful selection and introduction of guardians

When putting together a management plan for Mount View Court, it was important to Soha that the transition to housing property guardians caused as little disruption as possible. We take great pride in going above and beyond in the way we collaborate with our clients. As a result, we are responsive to their needs and the needs of the communities in which they work.

We worked with Soha to come up with a plan to introduce guardians in a sensitive and appropriate way – carefully selecting and inducting three guardians who understood the context of their new community. They embraced the need to be good neighbours and were willing to form relationships with existing residents. We tailored our vetting process to ensure that prospective guardians were interested in helping with activities like shopping, gardening and befriending older residents as part of their 16 hours of volunteering per month. The need for good neighbours became even more important in March when Covid-19 required that everyone stay at home. With isolation becoming a daily reality for many, the need for connection amongst neighbours and the power of volunteering has become more apparent than ever. 

 

3. Supporting relationships with neighbours

Developing strong relationships is vital in any regeneration project where there are existing residents. We have open channels of communication with Soha and their residents to understand their needs and provide information about Dot Dot Dot and our guardians. 

We helped Soha to educate and inform their residents about Dot Dot Dot and our approach, and to assuage any concerns they may have. Before Covid-19, we had planned some meet ups to introduce guardians to the residents and allow a space for the guardians to meet their new community. Covid interrupted these plans, so we had to innovate in a way that would still foster a sense of community, despite the need for social distancing. We shared case studies of each guardian with information about their interests and volunteering, and included contact details should the residents need to contact our guardians. This meant the residents had a listening ear to call on or could ask for help with shopping.

 

4. Making a difference in the local area

Since January 2020, our Henley-on-Thames guardians have contributed a total of nearly 300 hours of volunteering, and have continued to do so during Covid-19. Without them, local charity shops would not have had extra staff, and local music events wouldn’t have been organised. Through encouraging volunteering in the Henley local area, we see the mutual benefits of community to both the guardians and the residents. Samuel, a Dot Dot Dot guardian living in Mount View Court, says: ‘It’s an incredible community to live in and I’m fortunate enough to be a part of it’. 

 

Dot Dot Dot: property guardianship with purpose

The 16 hours of volunteering contributed by Dot Dot Dot guardians is central to our mission, but this is not the only additional value Dot Dot Dot can bring to an area. Careful management allows us to adjust to the needs of individual clients, projects and unique circumstances. Our agile and flexible approach has allowed us to collaborate with stakeholders despite the challenging circumstances presented by Covid-19. By building purpose into everything we do, we are unique in achieving additional value in the communities where we work. If you would like to get in touch with us about securing your empty asset, you can request a callback here.