Improving life in the community, from day one

October 31, 2023

Working in the world of property development and management requires a certain type of mindset. One where your main objective, that of improving places and the lives of those in the community, sustains you through difficult times. Even perfectly run development or regeneration projects will have moments of inactivity, periods of waiting, times when buildings sit empty. 

By working with Dot Dot Dot, you can start to make good on your objective of improving places and the lives of those in the community now, far ahead of your projects completion. Bringing in our socially-minded, proactive, warm and creative guardians not only ensures the safety of your buildings, it enriches the community throughout the life of your project, in a whole world of ways. 

As well as the standard benefits of guardianship — increasing footfall and bringing money to local shops and services, reducing instances of anti-social behaviour, and being considerate neighbours  — Dot Dot Dot guardians bring a unique and remarkable benefit. Every single one of our guardians volunteers in the community for at least 16 hours per month. But let’s add some colour to that statistic. Our guardians don’t just pay lip service to the idea of volunteering. They share their valuable skills, passions, expertise and care towards the most important causes, in new and innovative ways. They are, by nature, empathetic, generous and warm. Their very presence enriches the area and the wellbeing of those around them.

Our guardian, Basma, moved into one of our west London properties, and made an instant impact. A refugee from Egypt, she is a passionate and life-long volunteer within the refugee community advocating for ending violence against women and girls. She now volunteers with Forward UK, the leading African women-led organisation working on this cause. Basma recently organised an event to celebrate Refugee Week that highlighted the impact refugees have played in society, and how their stories can inspire compassion in the wider community.

Basma is well known and respected in her sector, and the value she brings is exponential, “Through my years of volunteering I’ve built connections and strong networks in the sector so I’m best placed to invite guest speakers and panellists from within the refugee community.” – Basma Kamel.

Another guardian, Roberto, tried a variety of volunteering roles before finding one that really spoke to his passions and talents. He is now a mentor at Just Like Us, a charity which supports LGBTQ+ young people through higher education and the start of their careers, by pairing them with LGBTQ+ professionals to offer career advice.

“Starting your career or joining a new workplace can be a daunting experience for LGBTQ+ people” explains Roberto. “My mentee is currently studying at university, and we’ve been setting goals and thinking about preparation together. We’re currently focusing on building his confidence and drawing out what makes him special. One of things I enjoy most as a mentor is the direct impact you have.”

When our guardian, Bea, first arrived at her temporary home in Thamesmead she was keen to find the life and soul of the community. But she noticed a real lack of community engagement — there were almost no local events for adults. So, as a lover of stand up comedy, Bea organised a six week long comedy workshop for local residents which culminated in the ‘Thamesmead is Funny’ open mic night, sponsored by Peabody and Dot Dot Dot. One workshop participant told Bea that learning comedy brought playfulness back to her life after a difficult few years. Despite being only a temporary resident, Bea’s impact will endure for many years to come.

These kinds of stories make for heartwarming reading, and can really help motivate your organisation and its stakeholders by showing how their hard work, determination and investment in the project is paying off. So, we at Dot Dot Dot will continually share  volunteering success stories, as well as key stats and data around the positive impact.

The value of these very human stories and interactions is echoed by our clients.

“Our goal is to lead change by offering a new approach to development that is customer and community-focused, plus creating places where people feel they truly belong.  The guardians’ fantastic commitment to voluntary work creates a valuable contribution to local communities,” – David Gelling, Managing Director at This Land, former Dot Dot Dot client in Cambridgeshire.

Beyond the fantastic reputational benefits, as they may be referred to in CSR terms, in real terms these stories mean that your business is truly making the world, your little bit of it at least, a much better and safer place.

“Dot Dot Dot volunteers have been an invaluable resource in our journey to reopen the high street. Together we’ve launched a fruit and veg pop up shop, a podcast and rehearsal room, a hanging garden, a Covid-19 response and so much more. It’s been incredibly fun and they feel like part of the team.” – Paige Perillat, Civic

The Tree of Life: movement, dance and creativity in Thamesmead

October 3, 2023

Property guardian, dancemaker and lifelong creative, Melissa has been putting roots down in Thamesmead where we have a longstanding community of guardians.

After performing at the annual Thamesmead festival, we caught up with Melissa about her passion for dance and event sponsorship from Dot Dot Dot. 

A journey to self-actualisation

A self-described neurodivergent dancer and dancemaker, Melissa draws on an eclectic movement history of classical/contemporary dance, martial arts and somatic practices to create engaging dance art.

Her performance at the Thamesmead festival was named ‘The Tree of Life’ – a piece inspired by Jewish wisdom traditions. “In this dance, I use the tree as a framework to generate movement,” Melissa explains. “This piece is about the journey to self-actualisation and community.”

“When I moved to Thamesmead, I immediately felt connected to the community” she goes on. “There’s a really strong artistic space here. I actually met another Dot Dot Dot guardian through my volunteering at Greenwich Dance where I teach an improv dance class. I knew that I wanted to perform The Tree of Life with him. He’s really talented.”

Dot Dot Dot supports the community

Melissa approached Dot Dot Dot for support with funding after hearing about how we sponsored an open mic comedy night put on by her friend and fellow guardian, Bea.

“I attempted a round of crowdfunding without success. So, funding from Dot Dot Dot was really transformative,” Melissa tells us. “I used the money to hire studio space without digging into my personal income. We were on a pretty tight schedule and only had four days to rehearse. The ‘sponsored’ studio meant we could focus with no distractions.”

In the second half of her set, Melissa led a creative improvisation workshop. “This may have been more nerve racking than the dance itself,” she admits. “But the crowd was really receptive and engaged. I invited people to explore movement with me. There were people there that I’d never met before; and some familiar faces from Greenwich Dance.”

A source of inspiration

Dance has been Melissa’s life long passion, and since 2011 it’s been her fulltime vocation.

She’s collaborated with prominent companies and choreographers across the UK and Europe. Notably, she lived in Hungary where she performed with the Budapest Dance Theatre for five years.

“I then moved to London in 2020,” Melissa explains. “Due to ridiculously high rental prices, I lived in a house share. This was a real shock as I’ve lived alone since I was teenager. I really value my own space. Becoming a Dot Dot Dot guardian allowed me to live alone again and find peace of mind.”

“I’ve also fallen in love with Thamesmead,” Melissa goes on to say. “There’s something poignant about living here. There’s so much natural beauty set against the stark backdrop of Brutalist architecture. It’s inspiring. I think that’s why there’s such a wonderful artistic community here with people producing art from their heart.”


Sponsoring Bea’s open mic night and Melissa’s dance performance have prompted us to start a Community fund for guardians that want to put on events for their local communities. We will be launching this initiative in November with further information about how you can apply!

You can also join Melissa at her dance classes at the Acosta Dance Centre in Woolwich on Wednesdays at 6:30pm. The classes are for everyone from beginners to seasoned professionals. Find out more and book a spot here.

Everything you need to know about our new property guardian flats in north-west London

August 31, 2023

Dot Dot Dot has worked with Brent Council for a number of years now, turning their empty buildings into inexpensive accommodation for property guardians. We currently manage 23 flats in north-west London owned by Brent.

In recent months, we’ve been working behind the scenes to take on many more flats in a Brent block that’s almost entirely vacant. These low-cost flats are now very nearly ready for property guardians who volunteer for good causes. 

So, here’s everything you need to know if you want to live in north London without the hefty price tag.

The Block

No building that can be turned into safe accommodation should ever stand empty – especially not during a housing crisis.

Not too far from the greenery of Queen’s Park, the block is currently sitexed. Not only an eyesore, the building is also a target for anti-social behaviour which ultimately puts the nearby community at risk.

From fixing boilers to clearing the properties, the Dot Dot Dot team has been working tirelessly to bring these flats back to a liveable, safe standard over the past few months.

Revitilising Queen’s Park

In the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing the sitex down and placing great guardians in these fantastic north-west London flats.

Our new Queen’s Park guardians will provide live-in security for the block, report any anti-social behaviour directly to us and look after the properties. Each guardian will also volunteer for 16 hours each month, dedicating their time to the neighbourhood  and local good causes.

Our guardians will also play a vital role in building up the community. And their presence will bring the building back to life and revitalise the local area.

The flats in north-west London

The flats themselves are all 3-bed properties and many are set across two floors. They consist of one large double room, and two slightly smaller bedrooms. Each flat has its own kitchen, spacious living room, bathroom and WC. You can take a virtual tour of an example flat here.

The block is less than ten minutes’ walk from Queen’s Park tube station (Zone 2) which offers great travel links into the city centre. You can find out more about the local area on our available properties page.

You’ll be able to live alone in a spacious 3-bed property for £800pcm; share with a friend or partner for £520pcm per person; or share with up to two others for £400pcm per person. Find out more about our eligibility criteria here.

The property guardians

We’re on the lookout for proactive and resilient people with a genuine passion for helping others. You’ll need to be comfortable living in a building that’s in the process of being rejuvenated. Our new Queen’s Park guardians will be friendly neighbours and able to tackle any minor repairs themselves.

To become a guardian, you’ll need to be happy to furnish the space yourself! These low-cost north-west London flats will need a lick of paint and floor covering in places. We always encourage guardians to make the space their own (whilst remembering the property guardianship is a temporary form of living).

If you’re ready to become a Dot Dot Dot guardian, start your application now.

Thamesmead is funny: Bringing comedy to the community

July 10, 2023

When Bea moved to Thamesmead to become a Dot Dot Dot guardian she was keen to meet new people and become an active member of the community. But she quickly noticed a lack of community engagement and local events for adults.

Until she took matters into her own hands.

Thamesmead is Funny

A lover of stand up comedy, Bea organised a six week long comedy workshop for Thamesmead’s local residents which culminated in the ‘Thamesmead is Funny’ open mic night, sponsored by Peabody and Dot Dot Dot.

Bea’s idea was born from frustration: “It was the same people who were attending different community events again and again. I realised that most people in Thamesmead were not active members of the community. There wasn’t much in the way of events for adults; most things were children or family focused.

I wanted to engage people who hadn’t engaged with the community before. I wanted to take people out of their comfort zone.”

Winning the community fund

At first, Bea was hesitant. She’d had some exposure to event planning, however, putting on a comedy event was completely uncharted territory. “Then I met a fellow guardian, and we quickly became friends,” says Bea.

“When I told her about my idea she said it was brilliant, and agreed to help me. We both have very different skill sets so we were able to work well together. She’s an artist so she was instrumental in designing much of the promotional material like flyers and promotion for the event.”

With her friend on board, Bea submitted and won a bid for funding from Thamesmead Community Fund. From there, things moved quickly. They recruited a professional comedian to run the six workshops, sought out local participants and started planning for the open mic night.

On running the workshop, Bea says “we had a mix of participants – their ages ranged from 20 to 70! At first, no one spoke to each other. I was worried about them getting up on stage. But seeing everyone bond through the weeks was the best thing about this experience. I was overwhelmed by everyone’s eagerness to perform in front of an audience at the end.”

The big night out

Organising the open mic night presented several obstacles. Not only had Bea been warned that Thamesmead residents were notoriously hard to engage, she also struggled to find a venue willing to host them.

“We were doing something that hadn’t been done in Thamesmead before, and there were some particular concerns around licensing,” she explains. “It was important that we could serve alcohol because comedy doesn’t really work without it.”

It took a lot of negotiation and reassurance from Bea before The Moorings agreed to host the ‘Thamesmead is Funny’ event, which turned out to be a resounding success.

Bea tells us that “the best thing about the whole night wasn’t that the venue almost reached capacity despite our anxieties. It was at the end of the evening when an older lady came up to me. She told me that tonight was the first time she’d been out in the evenings for three years! She’d decided to come because she had attended a comedy event 10 years previously and enjoyed it.”

Long lasting impact

As property guardian, Bea is a meanwhile resident of Thamesmead. But her impact on the community and its individual residents is lasting.

One workshop participant told Bea that learning comedy brought playfulness back to her life after a difficult few years. Other attendees are planning to perform comedy at this year’s Thamesmead festival – a local community festival at which comedy has never been performed before.

Bea achieved exactly what she set out to do: engage local people by driving them out of their comfort zone.

World Entrepreneur Day: The positive power of online gaming

August 19, 2022

At Dot Dot Dot, we house some truly innovative guardians who have made a real difference to their communities. To celebrate World Entrepreneur Day, we’re highlighting the work of Daniel who set up his own social enterprise during his time as a property guardian with us.

Daniel previously enjoyed volunteering at a local furniture store. But like many of us when Covid hit, he had to rethink the way he could carry out his work as a volunteer.

Creating change through online games

When the government enforced nationwide lockdowns, we all experienced an abrupt and new kind of isolation. This sudden lack of connection started Daniel on a journey to set up his own social enterprise.

He explains: “I had to completely reconsider how I was going to volunteer. I wanted to bring together vulnerable people who couldn’t leave the house. Throughout the pandemic, we used the power of online gaming to make a positive change in the world.”

A self-proclaimed “semi-professional nerd”, Daniel started building a community on the internet by running online events. He played all sorts of games from rogue-lites, to farming sims and Dungeons & Dragons. By live streaming the games on Twitch, viewers could get involved and interact with each other in real time.

The power of a remote community

Through his regular streaming schedule, Daniel created a safe and supportive space for people to have fun together without leaving their homes.

“We have built a regular community of people who come together to have fun and play games.  But there’s also a strong network of people who show up for each other. I see some people sharing certain problems, and others reaching out to help them.”

Not all fun and games

As things started to return to normal, Daniel saw how the power of games could have an even wider impact. In May 2021,  he officially founded Roll Together which is now a social enterprise.

The Roll Together community not only comes together to have fun online, they now fundraise for various charities: “Twitch is the primary mechanic through which we fundraise. While we stream people can donate money or buy subscriptions. All of these proceeds then go to the charity we are sponsoring at the time.”

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Daniel saw how the positive power of gaming could have an impact far beyond the internet and into the wider community. Roll Together has previously worked to fundraise for charities like Mind, Cancer Research, and LGBT Foundation. They are currently raising money for Operation Underground Railroad, an anti child trafficking organisation.

If you’re interested in joining Daniel’s live streams, check them out on Twitch.

Supporting regeneration in Oxford, the city of dreaming spires

May 24, 2022

In July 2019, we agreed with A2Dominion, a housing association with a social purpose, to secure vacant flats on an estate in Oxford during a regeneration project. While A2Dominion were looking for property security, they also needed a strategic partner that would be sensitive and thoughtful when housing guardians, so as not to disrupt or cause difficulties for remaining residents still living on the estate. They also needed to be confident that the security provider would be a reliable steward of their assets and maintain open communication.

Our extensive experience of working within regeneration schemes and our ability to tailor our approach as required meant that we were well-prepared to be the strategic partner that A2Dominion needed.

Providing community-minded guardians to A2Dominion 

Dot Dot Dot’s stringent vetting process ensured that the guardians selected for Gibbs Crescent in Oxford, understood the importance of creating a good relationship with remaining estate residents. In fact, the idea of community and neighbourliness is built into our business model. All of our property guardians are required to volunteer for 16 hours a month for good causes. Guardians who volunteer demonstrate responsibility and commitment and ultimately, make good neighbours.

The (guardians) have made us aware of some anti-social behaviour on the estate and have helped to maintain a number of the small private gardens in the empty properties, even working alongside some of the remaining residents to grow their own vegetables.” 

A2 Dominion

In total, we secured 22 empty units and created inexpensive housing for 32 property guardians who volunteered to support remaining residents and good causes within the Oxford community.

Amplifying social impact across Oxford 

Our guardians volunteered at Gibbs Crescent itself, and with charities in Oxford. We also connected with an A2Dominion partner aligned with our own values, to provide more focused social value – Aspire Oxford. The charity and social enterprise aims to empower people facing homelessness, poverty and disadvantage, to find employment and housing.

Through their Employment Skills Training Programme, Dot Dot Dot employed their tradespeople regularly for property repairs and maintenance. These work opportunities, together with support from Aspire, enabled them to attain secure employment and housing in the long term.

Throughout the two and a half years that we housed property guardians in Oxford, our guardians collectively volunteered for over 8,211 hours for good causes, many of which were local to Oxford. This equates to £101,400* worth of social value. Former Dot Dot Dot guardian, Mori, volunteered with Oxford Community Action:

“Volunteering has provided me with a way to connect more with the people around me, and with people who wouldn’t normally be in my social sphere. A lot of people at Oxford Community Action come from immigrant, working class, BAME backgrounds which, as a middle-class, white student, are different to the people I met at university. It’s allowed me to bridge these gaps and form meaningful connections.”

Demonstrating flexibility throughout the pandemic

The emergence of Covid-19 in March 2020, which brought about new working from home practices and periods of self-isolation for staff, meant that redevelopment timelines for Gibbs Crescent were pushed back. Due to those adjustments, there were extra empty properties that needed to be secured with guardians.

To support A2Dominion we adapted our onboarding and property management process to ensure that we could quickly take on another phase of flats on the estate. In 2020, we started to house guardians in an extra five flats, bringing the total to 17. 

Our experience with the guardians has been very positive. Once the void properties have been accepted there is very little involvement from our side. Having the guardians in the void properties has given us the peace of mind we needed whilst preparing to redevelop the estate.”

A2 Dominion

A successful handback

When vacant possession was required, we were able to move all of our guardians out of Gibbs Crescent within 30 days. As part of a phased handback, we returned the first batch of properties in January 2022, and the second in March 2022, ensuring they were back with A2Dominion ahead of the next stage of their development.

The success of this contract is testament to our model and approach, and desire to deliver property guardianship with purpose.

Discover more about how we can sensitively support your regeneration scheme with thoughtful and community-focused property guardians who will volunteer for good causes.  

* 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).

Amplifying her volunteering efforts with Dot Dot Dot guardianship: Karin and the Open HR Forum – Students

May 6, 2022

With the added support of Dot Dot Dot guardianship, west London guardian, Karin, has been able to amplify her volunteering efforts to enable students to access mentoring from real world working professionals. Karin’s initiative, the Open HR Forum – Students, operates on an international scale to create opportunities for HR students to become leaders in their field.

Developing a passion for communication skills

“One of my first voluntary roles was supporting students and teachers in Slovakian primary schools to develop their interpersonal skills. Since then I’ve been passionate about improving communications between students and working professionals in order to bridge the gap between learning and practical experience in the workplace.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, I began a course in human resources with the Open HR Forum, to support my continued learning and development around communications in my home country of Slovakia.

I soon noticed a marked gap in the potential to access career consulting and work experience in Slovakia compared with the UK – the only options were for vast sums of money that were unaffordable for most of the students that I knew, including myself.”

Initiating a platform for students to gain real-world experience 

“I identified the need to establish a sub branch of the Open HR Forum specifically for students to gain practical experience and career consultancy. My main aim was to facilitate opportunities for people to be leaders in their field, something that was driven by students, for students, to dictate their own learning and development.

The initiative I’ve created helps to bring HR students together on an international scale, offering them mentoring and support from large professional organisations for free. Each student is paired with a working professional ‘buddy’ who is able to guide them towards applying their theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios.

They can also receive free advice form HR professionals during webinar sessions which has been really successful in helping to feed international knowledge back into the Slovakian education system.”

Utilising guardianship to re-divert time and energy towards volunteering

“Paying lower monthly living costs as a Dot Dot Dot guardian compared with the private rental sector means that I can afford to spend more of my spare time volunteering.

Dot Dot Dot recognising the value of volunteering is really powerful and was one of the deciding factors for me when I became a guardian in 2021. For me, volunteering comes naturally and is something that I’ve always felt comfortable doing – I’ve always cared about giving something back to my community, but being a guardian allows me to amplify my contributions and the amount of time I  dedicate to my initiative.

Guardianship is not for everyone, but there are many advantages to becoming one. I currently live in a large 4-bed townhouse in Hammersmith, west London, and share the property with a teacher, a human rights lawyer and a scientist. I absolutely love my guardian housemates and am so glad to have had the opportunity to meet them – we all have busy work and social lives, however we still find time to meet and relax as a household.

My relationship coordinator, Dominique, has also been fantastic. We feel supported by Dot Dot Dot and their emphasis on being there for the people as well as the property.”

A guide to Kent’s county town, Maidstone

April 8, 2022

As one of Kent’s most enduring and historically significant towns, Maidstone is ever-evolving to balance new and diverse industries with its historic charm and characterful corners. Peacefully located on the banks of the river Medway, this county town is well worth exploring for its hubs of entertainment, long list of much loved bars and restaurants and leafy aesthetic. We recently visited the area for ourselves – and here are our best bits.

Activities and attractions

The river Medway runs through the heart of Maidstone, and so the town offers a surprising amount of water sports during the warmer months. You can hire out canoes and kayaks to explore the river and even travel out into the pastoral Kent countryside on a day trip.

Cycling is also a popular pastime, and there are plenty of quiet and traffic-free routes to take to discover the county town. You could also head to Go Ape to explore the forest canopies in the surrounding rural beauty spots via zip lines and high ropes.

The Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery, residing within an Elizabethan manor house, hosts the most diverse mix of collections in Kent, and has won acclaim for its ethnographic and ancient artefacts. You’ll find  Anglo-saxon treasures, a chair that once belonged to Napoleon and even a 2,700 year old Egyptian Mummy.

The fossilised bones of ‘Iggy’ the Iguanadon (which can be found on the town’s coat of arms!) were discovered in 1834 during an excavation on Queen’s Road. As a historical find of international significance, they are now housed in the Natural History Museum in London, but a visit to Maidstone Museum will allow you to see a full cast of the bones.

Offering one of the most energetic and varied programmes of art performances in the south east, The Hazlitt Theatre offers drama, comedy and musical entertainment and local community theatre groups.

Where to shop and dine out 

Maidstone offers an eclectic mix of shopping and dining experiences. Amongst the recently refurbished Fremlin Walk, you can find a flagship House of Fraser, H&M, Flying Tiger and Waterstones, to name a few. On the other side of town you’ll find independent shopping experiences in and around the streets of The Royal Star Arcade and Market Buildings, with clothing and homeware boutique, Lottie’s Loft, being a particular highlight.

Restaurants and cafes are in abundance, with the highest concentration of eateries located around Earl Street. Check out the highly recommended Frederik Cafe Bistro, La Villetta, Mu Mu’s and Embankment Floating Restaurant on the River Medway.

In the historic villages in and around Maidstone, top pubs include The Fish on the Green in Bearsted, The Potting Shed in Langley and the Curious Eatery in Boughton Monchelsea.

Mote Park

Mote Park boasts an impressive 30 acre lake offering water sports, a pitch and putt course and a cafe hub. It’s also host to a variety of festivals and events throughout the summer and autumn.

Highlights include Ramblin Man Fair in July, one of the country’s biggest rock music festivals. For three years on the go, Ramblin Man Fair encompasses rock, blues and country, has its own beer festival, and there are options for glamping and camping nearby!

October welcomes the beer and folk music festival, Oktoberfest. Expect Europe’s biggest beer tent with 30,000 litres of Bavarian beer, traditional folk music and a German food market.

How we work with LB Brent to turn empty flats into inexpensive homes in Queen’s Park

March 22, 2022

The regeneration of South Kilburn in Queen’s Park is a 15-year project aiming to deliver over 2,400 new homes as part of a sustainable and mixed neighbourhood. Flats are vacated in phases to prepare blocks for demolition. However, leaving them empty can risk them becoming the target of anti-social behaviour or can mean maintenance issues that could affect existing residents aren’t spotted.

Life for local residents can become worse just when timelines are most critical and when housing teams are most stretched. For Dot Dot Dot, this can be an opportunity to add most value. With a depth of experience in regeneration projects, and a commitment to delivering positive social impact, we work with housing teams to manage voids in a way that maintains flexibility and positivity in the decant process.

Assessing if a property can be used for guardianship

Dot Dot Dot and LB Brent worked together to establish a process whereby properties could be identified as potentially suitable for guardianship and handed over – or returned if unsuitable – in an efficient, transparent manner:

  1. Property in pipeline: LB Brent allocates a property as available for potential guardian use, and invites Dot Dot Dot for a pre-assessment site visit. LB Brent and Dot Dot Dot agree properties which appear suitable for guardian occupation, and LB Brent undertakes any necessary work to ensure that the units pass their EICR and gas safety inspections, are weathertight and have secure windows and doors.
  2. Property ready for triage: LB Brent notifies Dot Dot Dot when they’re satisfied the property is at the handover standard, and sends over gas and electricity safety certs and asbestos documentation.
  3. Key collection and triage authorisation: Both parties agree a timeline for Dot Dot Dot to put the property through triage i.e. assess its suitability for guardianship. LB Brent signs a Triage Authorisation Form and hands over keys. Dot Dot Dot inputs the property and its accompanying authorisation is into a property tracker visible to both parties.
  4. Triage: Over a maximum two-week period, Dot Dot Dot will assess the suitability of the property for guardianship e.g. the amount / cost of work needed to make it viable for occupation in line with our minimum property standards.

Either the property will be accepted by Dot Dot Dot, in which case LB Brent will give authorisation for set up to be finalised and guardians to be housed. Or, Dot Dot Dot will determine that the property can’t be used for guardian occupation, provide the reason for rejection, return the keys and a Property Handback Form to LB Brent, and designate the property on the tracker as being handed back.

Housing guardians to keep properties safe

Once authorised to house guardians, Dot Dot Dot will take on the Council Tax and utilities accounts, add safety certs to our online folder that’s shared with LB Brent, and obtain a selective licence for each property.

Prospective guardians will be vetted, with key considerations being their financial security, ability to move out if given 28 days’ notice, and their desire to volunteer.

Councillor Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet member for housing and welfare reform at LB Brent, explains: “The first temporary guardian was housed in South Kilburn in April 2021, and there are now 19 guardians across four different blocks. They will be joined by dozens more over this year as the regeneration progresses. They have already volunteered over 1,500 hours to good causes, including at local community kitchens, Covid-19 vaccination centres and the Compass network which represents the LGBT+ community within the armed forces.”

The final stage – vacant possession and handback

Using guardians means property owners are able to ask for their buildings back at any time and for any reason – all they need to do is give 32 days’ notice. In turn, Dot Dot Dot will give its guardians the 28 days’ notice required by law.

Once notice has been served, guardians will begin to activate their move on plans, and Dot Dot Dot will offer rehousing options when available and appropriate. The properties are returned to LB Brent in a clean and clear condition, and after inspecting the property, LB Brent will sign a Property Handback Schedule to confirm its return. Dot Dot Dot will close the Council Tax and utilities accounts and transfer them back to LB Brent.

This entire process can occur over a period of a few months to several years, and can flex with the timelines of the council’s regeneration plans. In choosing to work in partnership, Dot Dot Dot is able to provide its guardians with inexpensive homes in a desirable, diverse and dynamic part of the capital, and LB Brent can keep its buildings safe, support its communities and generate positive social impact through volunteering.

Spotlight on: Cate and Charlotte, International Women’s Day

March 11, 2022

This International Women’s Day, we’re throwing the spotlight on two Dot Dot Dot guardians who are doing fantastic work to both support and lead the way for women in their careers and voluntary work.

Discover how our Manchester guardian, Cate, has powerfully forged her own artistic career path in light of an autism diagnosis. And how our west London guardian, Charlotte, who is volunteering with XLP – a charity focused on supporting young people to recognise their full potential – is helping to  create positive futures for women growing up in inner-city estates.

Cate, forging her artistic career path

From our Manchester guardian, Cate 

During the pandemic I was diagnosed with autism and began to find the work I was doing problematic, especially when I had to take on new responsibilities due to Covid. I started to feel that I needed to fundamentally change what I was doing and work on something new, with an emphasis on supporting others.

Equipped with my experience of being diagnosed with autism and the challenges I’d faced in light of this, I left my job to begin focusing on initiating an art agency. My goal was to create a platform for fellow creatives who struggled to gain normal agency representation due to having specific working needs like myself. Through this support, many artists have been able to go on to set up their own websites and control their own publicity.

Knowing Manchester to be a real hub of creativity and so a place where my arts agency could thrive, I left London behind to embark on a new stage of my life in West Didsbury as a Dot Dot Dot guardian. Soon after, I got a bar job in a pub in nearby Burton Road where there is a hive of artisan shops and businesses with whom I could connect and engage with.

This opened up another new avenue for me. The owner of the pub I was working in decided to utilise an empty unit space next door, and so myself and a female friend worked together to bring the space back into use as a gallery. The aim was to showcase art from local talent, many of whom are women, in rotating exhibitions to help them to publicise their work. Since then, we’ve had three exhibitions and have helped to raise the profile of 24 different artists in Manchester to a global audience through social media.

It’s been a huge learning curve for me as I’ve always wanted to do an MA in art curation but was held back by the cost. However, being so heavily involved in the running of the Next Door Gallery means that I’ve been able to gain first-hand experience in curation, practically executing my own MA. I’ve liaised directly with buyers across the globe as well as learned how to properly store and ship artwork internationally – something I never would have had the chance to do in my old life in London where my energy was zapped by other commitments.

Following the success of the gallery, I’ve been able to scale back on the amount of time I spend working to allow myself more space to focus on my own freelance artwork. Transforming part of my Dot Dot Dot flat into my art studio has been a lifeline for me to be able to develop and produce my work. I’ve recently been part of an art show at the Antwerp Mansions in Manchester and am currently in talks to hold my first solo exhibition on the subject of autism and what that means on a personal level.

Charlotte, XLP

From our west London guardian, Charlotte

For six months now, I’ve been volunteering as a mentor to a 14 year old girl with a charity called XLP. They’re focused on creating positive futures for young people who are growing up in inner-city estates in London and facing challenges in their home lives, at school and in employment. I work with young people in my own career as chair of the Women Employability Resource Group with YMCA, and it’s something that I love doing – but I wanted to work with women in a different capacity when volunteering. XLP was a perfect way for me to draw upon my existing skill set in order to support and provide mentorship to young women.

My role is to empower and support the young woman I work with to begin to lead and shape her own future. We do many things together such as grabbing a coffee or going for a walk – anything that facilitates a conversation with her in order for me to provide guidance. XLP are even organising a weekend away with fellow mentors and mentees, and so I’ll be helping to push her out of her comfort zone, giving her opportunities to experience things she wouldn’t have in her everyday life otherwise.

There are challenges involved that relate to mentees socio-economic backgrounds and a lack of positive female role models in their lives, and so my role as a mentee really hinges on building trust and providing a listening ear for her. Specifically as a woman, I hope to have a positive impact in broadening her worldview and demonstrating to her that she is allowed to make space for herself. I am there to help her break a pre-existing bias, encouraging her to realise that she belongs in this society just as much as men and boys, and to empower her to take up space in her community.

For myself, I’ve learnt so much from this young woman – you couldn’t do this role without really seeing and feeling the impact it has for her. It’s a privilege and an honor to have a space in her life and share her challenges and sit with them in those times. I feel incredibly grateful that I am a trusted person in her life, and I hope I can continue to enable her to create positive goals and put her mind to achieving them.

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