Our Guardians: Ellis

Last week we sat down with one of our key workers, Ellis, to hear about his journey through the NHS graduate scheme and his time as a guardian with LOWE.

Initially from Kent, Ellis went on to study physics at Bristol University. As much as he enjoyed his studies it became clear to him that it wasn’t the right path long term. In the summer of 2017 Ellis found himself with a desire to find a fulfilling and socially impactful career path but little idea of how to do so. Chance intervened when Ellis was travelling around France with a friend of his who unfortunately suffered a nasty mountain biking accident just before their return. Upon arriving back into the UK the next day, Ellis immediately took his friend to hospital. It was there in the hospital waiting room that inspiration struck – maybe the NHS was the answer.

After some research Ellis discovered the NHS graduate scheme and became intrigued with the possibilities that it provided. His initial excitement at being accepted into the scheme was immediately overshadowed by one thought: ‘Where am I going to live?’

One of the main challenges that Ellis faced when he first moved to London was that his graduate scheme involved rotational placements – a problem involved in many graduate schemes involved across the country. As much as the NHS tries to take the employee’s current residence into account when assigning placements, much of their decision relies on demand and where the employee can provide the most benefit. The result of this was Ellis doing three rotations before the end of his first year.

Ultimately, Ellis found himself having to hop from place to place, often finding accommodation through platforms such as SpareRoom. Like many who have gone through the process, Ellis found the high prices and the lack of community within the private rental sector demoralising, remarking that he had lived in flats where he had gone for days without seeing his flatmates. It’s common knowledge that despite being a city of 9 million people London can feel very lonely at times, and Ellis’ flat share experience did nothing to mitigate that feeling.

Having moved around from flat to flat for a full year, Ellis heard about property guardianship through a mutual friend and decided to take a look for himself.

The first time he looked around the property that LOWE are managing on behalf of NHS Property Services, a government-owned company whose property portfolio represents about 10% of the NHS estate, he wanted to know what the catch was. Coming in at approximately 50% below market rent, Ellis couldn’t believe his luck. He mentioned how living with LOWE also has the additional benefit of the 28-day notice period, which gave him real flexibility to accommodate any future placements or roles within the NHS.

The other benefit that won Ellis over was the emphasis on community. There’s a culture in flat sharing that priorities utility over community, and more young people in Britain are feeling increasingly at a loose end. Having only moved to London recently, he wanted to not only find a place to live but also to meet new people and make a home.

“I’ve got to meet so many cool people. So many of them are now friends, rather than just housemates”

Being able to get back from the hospital each day spend time with his fellow guardians, relaxing and sharing stories, is something that he cherishes and something that we are always keen to encourage.

Community is a big part of LOWE’s policy, and we want everyone to feel as included as possible. This is particularly prominent with young key workers such as Ellis. Being able to attract more key workers to London through providing affordable accommodation with great communities is something that we are extremely proud of and are delighted to be partnered with NHS Property Services, who are instrumental in making this project possible.

This is the first property that NHS Property Services has partnered with LOWE on, and it forms part of NHSPS’ wider commitment to efficient use of the NHS estate to create social value for local communities.