Providing property peace of mind for Shepherds Bush Housing Group in Uxbridge

In 2019, we brought property guardianship to the London Borough of Hillingdon. Through our partnership with Shepherds Bush Housing Group, whose mission it is to provide safe, affordable homes across west London, we continue to secure 14 flats in Uxbridge. Since the project began, these properties have provided low-cost housing for 31 guardians who volunteer for good causes in the area.  

Protecting a vulnerable building from ASB

In 2019, Shepherds Bush Housing Group (SBHG) completed the purchase of a two-storey residential property in Uxbridge, west London. This move was part of a redevelopment plan by the Group which aimed to provide more affordable homes to local residents in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Following the purchase, SBHG grew increasingly concerned about the security of the building. Its location in a quiet industrial estate on the edge of the town had already encouraged one serious security breach as pre-existing residents vacated the self-contained units. And if left empty and unsecured it was likely to become victim to further ASB, squatting, and undesirable activities.

With prior experience of working with SBHG to successfully secure a former office block in Fulham, west London, the Group reached out to partner with us a second time. Our historical knowledge of the client combined with a proven record of housing guardians in a timely manner, meant that we were well-positioned to understand and implement the Group’s needs in this new location.

A management plan to ensure swift security

SBHG conveyed the need for a period of manned security before we were able to move guardians into empty units. Our agile approach allowed us to develop a swift, two-step management process, by bringing in security partners to fulfil the initial phase of securing the site before the second phase with Dot Dot Dot live-in guardians could begin.

We were able to recommend and employ Vigilance, an ethical security company, to provide immediate security to the site. Vigilance employs ex-Armed Forces personnel to help them reintegrate back into the workforce, and their commitment to social value both through their work and support for the Gurkha Welfare Trust make us proud to partner with them.

Using Vigilance for this first phase gave us time to bring the properties up to standard and prepare to house guardians quickly and effectively as soon as we formally took over management of the building. We housed our first property guardian in May 2019, four days after our guardian management contract with SBHG began.

Demonstrating flexibility: when the pandemic hit

Economic challenges and the depreciation of the property market brought on by the pandemic have negatively impacted the costs of redevelopment schemes. As a result, SBHG’s plans for the site were brought to a halt. Our inherently adaptable approach has allowed us to continue to collaborate with SBHG by ensuring our guardians remain in the property right up to the point where vacant possession is required.

Benefits of property guardianship for Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group

Placing Dot Dot Dot guardians in the properties has ensured that maintenance issues and undesirable activities are significantly reduced, and those that do occur are handled swiftly and efficiently. Since May 2019, we have carried out over 350 property inspections, managed general maintenance and certifications and dealt with repairs.In the last quarter, we have received no reports from our guardians pertaining to ASB.

Our continued management of the building has also given SBHG the freedom to redirect energy and resources towards more useful activities. Less concerned with costly security measures and financial liabilities, the Group can spend more time on making the right decisions for the future of the site.

Boosting social value for the Group and social impact in the community 

Since we started working in Uxbridge, our guardians there have completed 3,517 hours of volunteering. This equates to over £38,000* worth of social value. This does not, however, account for the impact on the guardians themselves – many of whom increase their confidence, wellbeing and skill sets through volunteering – or the impact on the local community, which benefits from conscientious and committed neighbours.

Our Uxbridge-based guardian, Gailene, specifically became a property guardian with us to enable her to live in the area and put her interest in volunteering into practice, which she does with children’s reading charity, Bookmark:

“With many children being homeschooled due to multiple lockdowns and social distancing, I felt compelled to find an opportunity where I could make a difference for them. Volunteering with Bookmark really gives you a sense of achievement and I would encourage anyone to get involved in such a brilliant initiative.”

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*The social value of volunteering presented uses the Living Wage at £12.35p/h, plus 30% for employee costs  (including National Insurance and pension contributions).


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