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.

How our green-fingered guardians give their homes ‘kerb appeal’

October 26, 2021

 From our founder, Katharine Hibbert

Of all the reasons for having Dot Dot Dot guardians looking after buildings, you might think that the fact that they keep corridors, gardens and front doors looking nice is the least important.  It’s certainly true that property security, social impact and making good use of an otherwise wasted asset are the main reasons people come to us.  But our experience over the years is that keeping buildings cared for aesthetically makes a big difference to property owners, to neighbours and to the guardians themselves, and is often a highlight of our work.

From the point of view of people living locally, neglected homes with overgrown gardens make whole streets look less welcoming and one or two boarded up flats can make whole estates look tired.  Such properties can be a magnet for anti-social behaviour and dumped rubbish, and can even be an arson risk.  If the situation continues for an extended period, it can be demoralising for neighbours who would normally be houseproud – why bother to make the effort to weed and clear your own front garden or pick up the litter from your corridor when the area still won’t look tidy.  And empty buildings can depress house prices for properties nearby.

Preventing long-term blight

Meanwhile, it’s understandable that anyone working on a property development or regeneration scheme would feel that it’s a waste of resources to pay to manage the visual appearance of buildings that are waiting to be transformed or sold.  It’s natural that they would prefer to focus their efforts on the outcomes of their project or on buildings that are still in use by tenants, leaseholders and business occupiers.  But if a project hits delays, this can mean that empty buildings end up being a blight for years.

This is where Dot Dot Dot’s property guardians can make a big difference.  Because they live in buildings and treat them as their homes, they want them to look nice so that they have a pleasant place to spend time.  And because we go out of our way to recruit thoughtful, considerate people to join us as guardians, they care about their impact on those around them.  We support our guardians to look after their gardens and front doors, and where necessary we provide them with equipment and help to do so. 

Supporting our green-fingered guardians

In addition to this, many of our guardians actively enjoy gardening, so take on more of it in their local areas as part of their volunteering.  In our partnership with London Borough of Ealing, we supported guardians to clear weeds from gardens around the estate where we were working.  With Tower Hamlets Homes our guardians reactivated planters across the Robin Hood Gardens estate, encouraging long-term residents to get back to growing vegetables.  Through a scheme run by Poplar HARCA, guardians adopted public flowerbeds and planted them up for everyone to enjoy.  At our project with RedKite in High Wycombe, several guardians volunteer to pick litter on a weekly basis.  Guardians created a roof garden at Booth House, owned by the Salvation Army.  And the pictures above show the transformation our guardians achieved at one of our projects with London Borough of Croydon.

Guardians also get involved in green projects beyond their own front doors – Dot Dot Dot guardians volunteering with GoodGym have planted spring bulbs and cleared weeds at community facilities across London.  And our guardians living in homes owned by Peabody at Thamesmead have got involved with conservation volunteering around the parks and waterways in the area.  

Improving well-being

We hear from guardians that this creates opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have – given the cost of renting or buying a home with a garden in London, many wouldn’t otherwise be able to spend time looking after plants and enjoying outdoor space.  The evidence shows that gardening is good for physical and mental health and reduces social isolation – chatting with neighbours while taking a break from working on your front garden is a good way to feel more connected to your local area.  Even just a window box on a balcony is cheering.

So, as with most of Dot Dot Dot’s work, taking care of gardens and the exterior appearance of the buildings we manage creates a win-win-win situation.  It alleviates a burden for property owners at no cost.  It makes neighbourhoods more pleasant and welcoming.  And it is worthwhile for guardians themselves.  

If you’d like to hear more about how our guardians can contribute to their local area, you can sign up to our newsletter, Meanwhile Thoughts or contact us at partnerships@dotdotdotproperty.com.

How the Dot Dot Dot team volunteer their time to good causes

September 29, 2021

To celebrate a decade of being an award-winning social enterprise, we’re telling the stories of our guardians, property owners, the voluntary organisations our guardians give their time to, and the Dot Dot Dot team.

At Dot Dot Dot, we wouldn’t be able to support the volunteering efforts of our guardians without being socially-minded individuals ourselves, willing to dedicate time and energy to good causes. So, we caught up with members of our team to share some of the ways in which they have volunteered to support a wide range of communities in the UK and abroad, from a Chinese community centre in Soho to refugees in Calais.

Anna Scott, New Guardian Assistant

My volunteering story began in 2018 when, motivated by a podcast, I decided to go to Calais to help cook food in the Refugee Community Kitchen. I felt nervous, unsure what to expect. I needn’t have worried, as when I arrived I had that rare but instant feeling that these were my people. 

The atmosphere in the kitchen was fantastic, music blared as we spent hours cutting vegetables and talking about every topic under the sun. If I hadn’t already booked a return ferry, I would have stayed longer! Even now, three years later, I often think of Calais and plan to go back when I can.

Annabel Cleak, Data Coordinator

I volunteered with a Kenyan charity called CIFORD Kenya as part of a training course about the charity sector with Child.org. I worked with CIFORD to conduct research on how gender roles, space, and farming interact in the Meru community, and carried out an impact evaluation of female empowerment workshops for teenage girls.

The data I gathered enabled CIFORD Kenya to gain further funding for their projects. I formed valuable friendships, and felt very fulfilled using my skills to help a charity gain the money they needed to continue work which uplifts the local community.

Mark Muldoon, Relationship Coordinator

I volunteer at all sorts of different places and I’ve always tried to do it in my local community – it feels good to not just live in my neighbourhood but to be playing an active role in it. I’ve been a volunteer event photographer at Poplar HARCA/Poplar Union since August last year and a volunteer painter and decorator at Civic in Custom House every now and then since last May. 

I’ve also been a food waste distributor for OLIO in Poplar since November last year and I’ve volunteered as a litter picker in Limehouse Basin for Moo Canoes. Through OLIO, I solely manage the redistribution of supermarket food that would otherwise be thrown away, ensuring as much of it as possible gets into the hands of less well off families in my local community.

Omar Al-Amin, Business Development Manager

I have volunteered at different stages of my life, and with different charities or projects in different sectors. The one common aspect that cuts through all of the volunteering I’ve done, is the chance to meet new people – the charity or project staff, the other volunteers, the end users / customers, – and the chance to see new places. It usually involves some form of (light) exercise, the chance to be outdoors and to learn new things. In other words, it’s a chance to feel connected. An increasingly rare feeling in the modern world.

Kieran Picton, Relationship Coordinator

London Friend is a charity who support vulnerable members of the LGBT community. I got involved in volunteering for them because I wanted to help people in an immediate sense, to assist those going through a difficult time to understand their situation and improve their self-worth. When the pandemic started my volunteering changed to checking in with members by phone call every week.

Some of the people I speak to suffer from complex PTSD and don’t leave their homes for some weeks, so I might be their only real human interaction.

It’s helped people to feel less alone; they tell me knowing they have someone checking in with them each week gives them something to look forward to. I feel like what I’m doing isn’t significant, but when I’m told things like this, it makes me realise what seems small to me can make a world of difference to someone else. To know I’ve made a positive impact in one person’s life makes it fulfilling for me.

 

Liz Clarke, Relationship Manager

When I first moved to London, I volunteered in my lunchtime at the Chinese Community Centre in Soho. I would help elderly people at a smartphone workshop and assist them with their use of their touch screen phones, particularly using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. It highlighted to me the importance of digital inclusion and accessibility, which has become even more important through the pandemic and in a world where we are now often faced with using QR codes (the barcode you might see on a menu, for example). It was rewarding to help people reach out to their families overseas who they had not been able to see or speak to for a long time. I also got to hear the stories behind the connections they wanted to make and the people they wanted to speak to. This was a special way to spend my lunchtimes.

Patrick Harrison, Business Development Associate

I volunteer for my wife Sue’s forest school business, Branching Out-woods, mainly at a primary school in Braintree.

The theory of forest school is that the children choose what to do in the woodland, and the leaders assist them to do those things, which might be den making, craft, cooking, rope stuff, or almost anything in their imagination. There is a big role for risk taking and fires which the children learn to make for themselves. It sounds hippy-ish but the evidence is that it really helps a child’s development (and the adults! – it’s so hard not to give the answer but let the child take (managed) risks and learn from their mistakes). We do see the children change in a few weeks!

After week three of the six allotted sessions we see the children relax into it and make the time their own. When we ask them if they would like to see anything changed, the response is “No, this is our time to do what we want”. It seems many children have so much of their life structured and directed.

Keep up with our #10Years celebration where we’re highlighting the stories of our guardians, property owners, the voluntary organisations our guardians give their time to, and the Dot Dot Dot team.

Spotlight on: Helen, our beekeeping guardian in Letchworth Garden City

July 30, 2021

From Helen, Dot Dot Dot guardian in Letchworth Garden City

Every Wednesday I volunteer in Hitchin, Hertfordshire with Buzzworks – a charity whose mission is to help people learn about the world of bees and train people in the art of beekeeping. I started off by helping to maintain the education centre gardens, before moving to assist the head beekeeper. We extract the honey from the hives which are then put into jars and sold at a market in Hitchin every month.

Before I became a Dot Dot Dot guardian, I was already volunteering with Friends of Norton Common. I used to go dog walking on the common and one day another dog walker told me about the group. It’s a lovely mix of people who are very knowledgeable, together we make sure that the green spaces are well maintained and safe for visitors to enjoy. We have such a laugh and come rain or shine we are there. Plus it keeps us fit and healthy and helps us feel connected to each other and nature. I’m learning many new skills and can do things now that I never thought I would.

I’m so grateful to Dot Dot Dot for providing me with a safe space in Letchworth so that I could continue living here after moving out of my previous flat. I work in social care and wouldn’t have been able to afford my own space. Now, I have the financial security to be able to enrol in courses and invest in my personal development. Plus, I’ve managed to pay off all my debts and become independent.

I cycle to both volunteer locations every week which makes me feel great and means that I’m not using my car which is good for the environment and my mental health. I’m passionate about normalising conversations around mental and emotional health, and whenever I volunteer I am able to discuss these topics with the other volunteers.

Read more stories from our guardians on their volunteering and how living with Dot Dot Dot has given them the freedom and flexibility to pursue their goals.

Bringing a youth club back into use with London Borough of Lewisham and Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust

July 22, 2021

Grove Park Youth Club in Lewisham was opened in August 1966. Having been a valuable asset to the Lewisham community for over four decades, it was forced to close in 2013 due to budget cuts.

In 2018, 52 years after the youth centre first opened, we partnered with London Borough of Lewisham and Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust (BPT) to secure the building with property guardians and bring the youth club back into use. With the property now handed back to Lewisham council in its newly restored condition, the Grove Park Youth Club will reopen its doors to the community on 26th July 2021 for the first time in eight years.

A lost community asset

The loss of youth services has not just hit Lewisham; funding cuts have forced councils and local authorities to close the doors of youth and community centres all across the UK. The YMCA found that every region in England has suffered cuts to youth services by at least 60% since 2010, leading to severe consequences for young people and the communities in which they live. As Dot Dot Dot founder Katharine Hibbert explored in a recent blog, physical social infrastructure like libraries, cafes and youth centres are essential to community cohesion, and can even be a matter of life or death. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has compounded issues around youth provision even further. Youth charity, UK Youth, found that, despite more demand, 83% of youth centres reported that their level of funding had decreased, while 64% said they were at risk of closure in the next 12 months.

It is little wonder that the Grove Park community were devastated at the loss of another community facility when the Grove Park Youth Club was closed back in 2013. Originally earmarked for demolition, the youth club was initially occupied by another property guardianship company. Despite the building being secured, the community, and in particular the Grove Park BPT, were committed to bringing the youth centre back to its former use.

Partnering with Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust and Lewisham Council

In collaboration with Lewisham council, youth service providers and local groups, the Grove Park Youth Club BPT put a plan in place for the revival of the youth club. The trust reached out to Dot Dot Dot in 2018 after hearing about our work and social purpose. Not only would we be offering security for the building while renovation work and fundraising was undertaken, but our guardians’ commitment to volunteering helped to bring the building back into good condition. Our experience of collaborating with councils and third party groups like Civic in east London made us the right fit for the trust’s mission to bring the last purpose-built youth club of its kind back to life. 

Bringing the youth club back into use

Since August 2018, our Grove Park guardians have contributed 787 hours of voluntary work, with each guardian contributing most of their voluntary hours to the revival of the centre. 

Their work has included arranging community clean-up days, putting together plans for a community garden, writing funding bids, recruiting volunteers and stakeholder management.

Killian Troy, a Trustee of BPT and a local to Grove Park, lived in the property for two years and contributed almost 300 hours to the cause: “For me, the benefit of being a property guardian is that I live somewhere that doesn’t contribute to London’s housing crisis. We make good use of buildings that would otherwise stand empty or be developed, and I am able to live with others and together we are working in and contributing to the local community.” Nearly two-thirds of our guardians volunteer for causes in their local area, and benefit from stronger social ties to their communities.

Through housing property guardians that care for empty buildings and the communities around them, we have created the opportunity to partner with property owners and third parties like the Grove Park Youth Club BPT and bring a well-loved community asset back into use. Beyond providing property security for empty assets like in standard property guardianship models, we partner with our clients and local groups to invest in their communities – proving that meanwhile use can and should be worthwhile.

If you’d like to hear more about how we work with our clients and their partners, you can sign up to our newsletter, Meanwhile Thoughts, or contact us at partnerships@dotdotdotproperty.com.

Creating social impact with London Borough of Newham and Civic in east London

March 16, 2021

Since 2016, Dot Dot Dot has worked alongside London Borough of Newham to house a total of 159 property guardians in 46 properties awaiting regeneration across east London.

Beyond the invaluable work we do to manage and secure empty properties in the area, our mission to create social impact in the communities in which we work has given us the opportunity to partner with London Borough of Newham and Civic to repurpose empty spaces for community use.

Aligned values

Like Dot Dot Dot, Newham are also committed to creating social impact through their Community Wealth Building initiative. Community wealth building, according to CLES (the national organisation for local communities), is ‘a new people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people’. Championed by Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Newham’s commitment to community wealth building aims to address poverty levels in the borough by economically empowering local communities. 

Almost half of Newham’s homes are in the private rented sector, where rents rose 56% between 2012 and 2019, and a huge 75% of salaries in Newham are put towards rent. At Dot Dot Dot, our commitment to affordable housing in areas where local people are priced out by high rents has provided a strong foundation for our partnership with the borough council.

Supporting relationships with stakeholders

Aside from delivering residential meanwhile projects for empty properties, there are many other ways we can support our clients. In 2017, Newham council reached out to Dot Dot Dot for some guidance on a potential meanwhile project on a piece of land earmarked for regeneration.

In the short term, they were sensitive to the possible disruption for residents, and wanted to utilise empty spaces in Custom House to bring the community together. Beyond our work to secure empty properties for Newham, we have also been able to support relationships with stakeholders, be it current residents or fostering new partnerships with other meanwhile organisations. In 2017, we used our expertise in the field to set out two proposed organisations that Newham could work with to repurpose the land, with Dot Dot Dot as the junior partner. By 2018, Newham had cemented their partnership with Civic, who are ‘supporting the new development of civic infrastructure’ in east London. 

Social impact in Newham

Civic’s work to reutilise disused spaces as community hubs mirrors our mission to repurpose empty buildings as housing and give back to the community through volunteering. As part of their transformation of the empty space at 3-9 Freemasons Road, Civic have encouraged community involvement in the project through volunteering. 

Dot Dot Dot has been able to assist Civic through our partnership with Newham council, by connecting local guardians in Canning Town and Custom House to Civic’s volunteering opportunities. Guardians have assisted in the transformation of the Custom House Civic Community Hub in a variety of ways, including painting a mural, building outdoor furniture out of pallets, helping out in the community garden and painting ahead of the building’s transformation into community spaces.

Civic has been delighted to welcome our guardians into their voluntary effort, and the project is a great example of how guardians can contribute to their communities: “Dot Dot Dot volunteers have been an invaluable resource in our journey to reopen the high street. They have given back to the community in more ways than one. 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. We can’t wait to continue to work with Dot Dot Dot across our Newham project”. 

Adapting to new challenges

In March 2020, the arrival of Covid-19 put plans for the community spaces on hold. Civic had to adapt to their changing environment and turned their hands to assisting their community in what was, and continues to be, a difficult time. Dot Dot Dot guardians did not hesitate to help the crucial effort, providing support by distributing food and PPE, assembling activity packs for homeschooling, creating “thank you” packs for key workers and sourcing clothes for those in housing need with Amy’s space.  As each guardian commits to contributing 16 hours of volunteering each month, Dot Dot Dot can provide an invaluable resource and direct volunteers to causes that matter most to our clients and the communities that they serve. Once plans for the community hub remobilise, guardians will be key contributors to Civic’s vital work for the Newham community. 

Not only does our crucial work with Newham continue to provide affordable housing to residents, but it has provided the support and voluntary hours to enable them to invest in meanwhile projects with the community at their heart.

If you’d like to hear more about how we work with our clients and their partners, you can sign up to our newsletter, Meanwhile Thoughts, here or contact us at partnerships@dotdotdotproperty.com.

When “security” isn’t actually that secure

February 19, 2021

From our Chief Executive, Peter Brown

Much of our work supports property owners delivering estate regeneration programmes. The complexity and phasing of these schemes often means they take many years. As a result, they tend to be organised in phases across multiple blocks within a wider regeneration zone – with different areas needing to be secured on a phased basis. But security without people involved can mean a double whammy of both expense and ineffectiveness.

Due to the phased nature of regeneration activity, property guardians can be a very useful solution, because the number of properties that arise as empty at any point in time can be hard to predict in advance. A local authority or housing association will want to have a strategy that is flexible and which can mesh carefully alongside its existing regeneration plans. 

Another consideration for local authorities can be the need to use regeneration properties to support homeless families or those in acute housing need, particularly when the regeneration timeframes change and properties are available for longer than initially thought. Property guardianship has the flexibility to allow this because guardians are temporary and can move out with relatively short notice, in ways that other strategies like decommissioning a property and boarding it up do not.

We have seen and worked alongside a variety of security / deterrent measures – some more effective than others…and none, by themselves, as effective as having people on the ground visibly using the property.

Metal void property security screens on doors and windows are common and can be helpful for physical security – particularly when a property is at the end of its life and has been decommissioned. However, they do serve to advertise the fact that a property is empty, so can be counter-productive if owners are worried about attracting ASB.

Remotely-monitored rented alarms specifically designed for void properties have the advantage over security screens by being discrete and not advertising a property as empty.

And there’s always the option of disguise! If the practical risk of damage or unauthorised access is low, then disguising properties can be surprisingly effective. We have clients who have used a simple kit: curtains, a few pot plants and perhaps a light on a timer can go a long way.

It’s important to note that these measures certainly can’t bring any guarantees that properties will stay safe and secure and for an extended period of time. In many cases we’ve seen clients disappointed when they try these measures without property guardianship alongside them, because they have invested money in security only to find it was less effective than they had hoped. 

There can be a range of problems when property is left void, including unauthorised access of the property, break-ins, property being used for unlawful activity and metal stripping and theft. Only the human solution of property guardians can bring both the confidence that a property will be cared-for and protected through occupation.

10 easy volunteering options to get you started

February 17, 2020

One of the best parts about being a Dot Dot Dot property guardian (other than affordable housing in places like central London) is getting to give back to your community through regular volunteering work of your choice. Through volunteering, Dot Dot Dot property guardians are able to gain experience and meet new people, whilst helping make their communities safer and stronger. However, if you’ve never volunteered before you might be asking, “where do I start?”. If you’re unsure how to get started you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve compiled our top ten organisations where it’s never been easier for you to begin volunteering.

1.The Dragon Café based in Borough, London, offers an antidote to loneliness and isolation often felt by those who suffer from mental illness. They offer signposting and mental health support, as well as activities like Tai-Chi. Simply turn up on any Monday at 1pm and ask for Lu, who will tell you all you need to know about how you can help.

2. If you’re looking for a reason to ditch your gym membership, Good Gym has got you covered. Combining getting fit with doing good, it’s a great way to jumpstart your motivation for exercise whilst also contributing to your local community. Be it running to meet an older person for a weekly cup of tea and a catch-up, to running with a group to help out on community projects, there is a range of ‘missions’ in locations all over the UK that you can join. Simply fill out the application form here and get started within 2 weeks.

3. SANE provides ongoing emotional support and information to people experiencing difficult circumstances or more serious mental health issues. Their helpline, text care and support forum services are provided by volunteers who undergo a training programme to acquire the right skills and knowledge to support those who turn to SANE for help. Find out ways that you could volunteer here.

4 StreetLink helps members of the public to link people sleeping rough to local services that can give them support. Their London-based volunteers direct vulnerable people away from sleeping rough and instead point them towards appropriate organisations that have the resources to help. They are always in need of volunteers to help during the daytime, evening or weekends. To join their team and help combat homelessness, email volunteer@streetlink.org.uk.

5. Until there is a cure, Dementia Adventure is finding ways to live better with dementia. The charity dedicates their time to supporting people with dementia to get outdoors, connect with nature, themselves and their community, and retain a sense of adventure in their lives. As a volunteer, you can support their Dementia Holidays, become a Community Ambassador or Community Fundraiser.

6. Volunteering with Missing Maps means you can help to inform and maximise the relief efforts of organisations such as The Red Cross who work tirelessly to provide aid. Volunteers use satellite images and a drawing tool to mark up buildings, rivers and roads in remote areas that may have escaped previous mapping. Recent initiatives include the Nepalese earthquake and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

7. Thames 21 is committed to cleaning up London’s 400-mile network of waterways. Through huge cleanup events and community engagement, they are working towards the improved condition of rivers and canals for people and wildlife alike. If you are looking to make an impact on your local environment, the project has a huge calendar of events that you can view here. For the majority of the events, there’s no need to book; all that’s required is that you come prepared for the weather!

8. With 39 community eating projects running across the country, Foodcycle is creating a network of social eating cafes that offer a free hot meal and flowing conversation. If being part of your community is important to you, get involved with food collection, cooking meals or hosting at the projects by filling out a simple volunteering form here.

9. Silver Line utilises telephone befriending by way of a 30-minute weekly call, to provide friendship and support to anyone over the age of 65 who experiences feelings of loneliness. By volunteering as a telephone friend, you will be matched to an older person based on your own profile of interests in order to ensure genuine and lasting friendships. To help tackle isolation in communities, complete an application form and return to volunteering@thesilverline.org.uk.

10. The Big Issue Foundation’s core philosophy to ending poverty and exclusion for good is to help people help themselves – vendors use their own funds to buy magazines to sell at their own profit or loss. By extension, The Big Issue Foundation connects vendors with the services and support they need, enabling them to build their futures. Sign up here to volunteer to change lives.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out do-it.org or WhatCharity to narrow down your search in London and the UK.

To find out more about how volunteering and guardianship go together, check out our community website page or read some more of our property guardians volunteering stories here.

This week’s top 5 volunteering opportunities

July 15, 2016

1.FareShare
FareshareWhere: South East London

When: Various 
Category: Food Waste, Hunger, Poverty
Commitment Level: Various

Fareshare take surplus food and redistributes it around the country where it is used by partner charities to help feed those who need it. Volunteers help to carry out the vital activities that make FareShare happen. They have a variety of roles open at the moment including driving and sorting. To find out more and to register your interest, click here.

2.Cleaner, Greener Volunteering 
cleaner greener volunteersWhere: Bow Church
When: August 6th 10.30-13.00 and August 13th 10.00-12.00
Category: Gardening, Conservation, Community
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc

Cleaner, Greener Volunteers are looking for people to help them gardening in Bow Churchyard at the beginning of August. Their next tasks are cutting back some of the old shrubs and pruning roses. If you are interested, please contact Christine Gennings. Email: Christine.Gennings@towerhamlets.gov.uk

3. La Leche League (LLL) Breastfeeding advice
LLLWhere: National
When: Various
Category: Advice, Breastfeeding, Health
Commitment Level: Various

LLL offers breastfeeding advice for mothers. They are looking for volunteers to become trained counsellors to give support and guidance to help mothers in their breastfeeding journey. They offer monthly group meetings as well as a 24 hour helpline. To find out more and to express interest, click here.

4.Sutton Community Farm
Sutton Community FarmWhere: Sutton
When: Various
Category: Gardening, Farming, Conservation
Commitment Level: Ad Hoc and Ongoing

Sutton Community Farm is a community-owned farm. They started in 2010 in response to a community need, with the purpose to increase access to fresh, healthy sustainable food and provide a shared space for people to cultivate skills, get exercise and make friends. There are a variety of volunteering opportunities on offer, see here for more information.

5.The Mix
the mixWhere: From home
When: Ongoing
Category: Support, Advice, Young People
Commitment Level: Varied

The Mix offers relationship support and advice for under-25s through phone, text, email, forums and counselling.  Opportunities for volunteering are various and can be from the comfort of your own home. To find out more, see here.

Spotlight on Josh

June 29, 2016

Josh became a guardian with us in early 2015 and has moved between 3 different properties in this time. His volunteering experience ranges from fundraising for WarChild at a festival to responding to emails from people with drug-related concerns with DrugScience. Here he talks about his latest venture: 

ZSLVolunteering close to your home isn’t just convenient; it helps you feel connected to your neighbourhood. I can hop on my bike and within 10 minutes be elbow-deep in compost, planting veg in the Lincoln Community Garden. It takes the same amount of time to arrive at Bow Locks (where Limehouse Cut meets the River Lea), where I put on a life-jacket and get stuck in to one of the more unusual volunteering activities I’ve tried: Eel Monitoring.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Eels escaping London’s waterways and entering the sewerage system need monitoring due to an unexplained 400% surge in toilet-emergence incidents. Their instinct to migrate upstream is unstoppable. I try to grab them as they enter the sewer overflow pipe but they are strong and slippery and I can only wrestle 4 or 5 at once.

In reality, I meet up with another eel monitoring volunteer and we record the sizes and numbers of elvers (baby eels, transparent and about finger-length) that come through Bow Locks as they migrate to find homes upstream. The project is run by the Zoological Society of London, with volunteers coordinated by Thames 21.

eels1Eels are the giant pandas of East London. They’re critically endangered, having plummeted 95% of the way to extinction in a couple of decades. I could probably struggle on in a pandaless world, but it’d be tragic to lose the European eel. They are incredible. Each elver I measure hatched in the Sargasso sea and swam from the West Atlantic to the East End. After our encounter, they head on upstream, and could be as old as I am before they return through Bow Locks as metre-long adults. They’ll head back to the Sargasso sea, breed, and die.

Dot Dot Dot helps people like me hang on in London, it’s satisfying to help eels do the same.

Get involved

  • If you’re interested in volunteering and becoming a guardian with Dot Dot Dot, apply here today
  • Keep up to date with our news and our guardians’ volunteering experiences on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

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