Creating positive social change with Women’s Pioneer Housing

A person sitting in a grassy field

Women’s Pioneer Housing was established early in the 20th century as a strong voice for women’s housing needs. With gender inequality still posing a challenge more than a century on, their efforts remain as relevant today as they were over 100 years ago. Because the gender pay gap still exists, and women in London, in particular, are underemployed, Women’s Pioneer Housing provides much needed housing and services which help women  achieve their full potential.

Dot Dot Dot’s own vision and goal to provide safe, inexpensive temporary homes that improve the lives of people and communities during a housing crisis has strong parallels with Women’s Pioneer Housing. Creating positive social change is central to our mission, and we believe that by relieving some of the pressure of high accommodation costs, our property guardians have more time to focus on what really matters to them.

A third chance to work together

Having successfully collaborated on two previous projects, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to support Women’s Pioneer Housing a third time when they asked us to provide live-in security for a building awaiting redevelopment in Acton, west London.

On their decision to appoint Dot Dot Dot, Director of Housing at Women’s Pioneer Housing, Jess Page says: “As a women’s housing provider, we don’t want to have a half empty building. Safety and security is really important to our tenants particularly because they are women. So, we wanted to work with a reputable property guardianship organisation that would help to keep our building occupied, keep a sense of community, and keep our tenants feeling safe during the time we rehouse them.”

At Dot Dot Dot, we follow a detailed applicant vetting process to ensure that we house only the most socially responsible people, and considerate neighbours to existing residents. We also accept only those who want to volunteer for 16 hours a month. Giving their spare time to good causes is a key part of being a Dot Dot Dot guardian and a way for us to ensure that the buildings we manage will be looked after, and the community cared for.

A partnership rooted in positive social change

In alignment with Women’s Pioneer Housing’s strong sense of purpose, we committed to housing guardians who identified as women as a way to continue to help those who face discrimination in a climate set against them.

The eight guardians we housed at Brook House immediately took action to cement their roles as thoughtful, caring neighbours to remaining residents. Some focused time and energy on looking after the building itself; combating anti-social behaviour such as fly tipping, as well as gardening and tidying so that the exterior looked nice and approachable. Others made sure that Women’s Pioneer Housing residents were taken care of, supporting them with shopping and cleaning.

Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, our guardians spent over 500 hours volunteering to help grow and support Acton’s community. This included preventing food waste by working with Olio giving surplus items to those who need it, and dedicating a considerable amount of time to the local ActOne Cinema, an independent, crowdfunded community asset.

Our guardian Basma spent much of her volunteering time with Forward UK, the leading African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls. As a refugee from Egypt, she is a passionate volunteer within the refugee community.

Basma explains: “As a Dot Dot Dot guardian I use some of my spare time to volunteer every month – to give to others the support I received when I first came to the UK.”

“Volunteering plays an important role in my life,” she goes on. “Not only has it allowed me to build up a really comprehensive set of professional skills, it has also allowed me to build connections and find people who share my values in life.”

A successful handback

Beyond the social and financial benefits of using guardians to secure empty buildings, property owners are also able to request their properties back at any time and for any reason. When the time came for vacant possession at Brook House in September 2023, the strength of the relationships built between our guardians, Dot Dot Dot and Women’s Pioneer Housing was evident.

All properties were handed back on time and in good order, and four of the seven guardians went on to be rehoused by Dot Dot Dot in other locations across London. As Dot Dot Dot’s service coordinator for Brook House, Dominique, reflects:

“Having the opportunity to offer women housing at Brook House was a great experience all around. Our guardians were happy and thriving whilst living there and actively contributed to improving the area through their volunteering work. Whilst providing security to their new homes, they built a community of support between themselves and the pre-existing tenants, and were equipped to vacate the property when the time was due.”