Our long-term meanwhile project with Peabody in Thamesmead

Tall tower block in London with outdoor sports court in front

Since 2015, Dot Dot Dot have collaborated with Peabody Housing Association during their 10-year regeneration project by securing 120 flats in Thamesmead with socially-minded property guardians. Throughout this partnership, we have endeavoured to explore how we can best benefit the Thamesmead community. As we ask each of our guardians to volunteer 16 hours of their time a month to a good cause, we have an invaluable resource that can be directed to local community projects.

Dot Dot Dot property guardian, James, has been volunteering to help run regular weekly sessions with Men in Sheds. For the past seven years, in two portacabins in Erith, north east of Thamesmead, Men in Sheds has been providing a sanctuary where retired men and women get together to combat the risk of isolation in their community.

James is keen to help the organisation develop as they welcome a growing number of people into their fold. He explains: “As one of the main keyholders, mentors and safety marshalls alongside other volunteers for Men in Sheds, my role is to help foster and grow a community of retired men and women who provide companionship and fellowship for each other. The concept is a social club built around woodworking; people channelling existing talents or learning new skills. The aim is to create something tangible and build friendships.

My role is to help foster and grow a community of retired men and women who provide companionship and fellowship for each other."
James Foulds standing in garden.

James Foulds

Property guardian and volunteer at Men in Sheds

As well as personal projects, items from intricate animal carvings, to furniture, and puzzles, are often made to be sold at local fayres and bazaars, which in turn go on to raise money for the community. Members of the group have also engaged in valuable outreach work, in particular with a local youth group.

At its most basic level, it’s also about people getting out and letting their hair down – enjoyable time spent with much friendly banter, whilst eating biscuits, drinking tea and laughing!

Membership is growing steadily and is used by many people who live around the local area. Those who take part have begun to self-organise, arranging their own trips out for meals, outings and other activities. Great, lasting friendships have been made under the Men in Sheds roof.

With growth also comes the need for expansion of our venue. Currently the members are building a large canopy attached to the outside of the portacabins to enable us to work outside during the wet weather. Plus, we’re installing giant rainwater harvesting and storage tanks for the garden area that is enjoyed by all during spring and summer!

Men in Sheds takes place all day, five days a week. Applications are very easy for people who’d like to take part and get to know us.”

Using Dot Dot Dot guardians to secure their properties, Peabody is reducing the costs and risks associated with managing empty buildings, such as vandalism and theft. But much more than that, our focus on creating social impact through volunteering means that we’re also actively contributing to Peabody’s meanwhile objectives for economic and community development in the area.