Property Guardian Spotlight – Q&A with Karen

Many of our trusted licensees have vital jobs in the key worker sector, and we are proud to offer them affordable accommodation as a springboard to their career aspirations. We talked to Karen, a nurse who works for the police, about how living with LOWE has enabled her to continue her studies.

Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I’m from Wellington in New Zealand – I moved to the UK to train to become a nurse.

Q. What’s your profession?
A. I work for the police as a custody nurse practitioner, so I’m a combination key worker. I work 12-hour shifts, two days and two nights. My role is to keep the people that are brought in to the station safe and well, and ensure their health is managed properly – they may have addiction issues or medical needs, so I have to monitor them closely. My job is confidential, I treat everyone I deal with with the utmost confidentiality.

Q. How did you become to live with LOWE?
A. My lease finished on the private rental property I was living in, and one of the nurses at St Thomas’s hospital suggested becoming a licensee with LOWE. I successfully applied, and moved in to a building LOWE was responsible for in Bermondsey. This was back in 2018, and I was one of the first key workers they recruited as a licensee. There were nine of us living in the property and it was great fun.

Q. Where are you currently living?
A. When it was time to move on from my previous licensee role, LOWE supported me to find another suitable property. I now live with my fellow licensee in a two-bedroom LOWE property in Loughborough Junction, near Brixton – close enough but not too close to the police station where I work.

Q. What do you enjoy about living in a LOWE property?
A. It’s so affordable – I wouldn’t be able to live in this area otherwise. LOWE are also brilliant at maintaining the properties they look after. Sharing with a friend is also great – we lived together in my last LOWE property too.

Q. How have you made your LOWE home personal to you?
A. I love the fact that LOWE allow us to personalise the property and make it feel like home. When we were living at a previous LOWE building we made the garden really lovely. I’m so happy here, the moment I viewed the it, it felt like home. I’ve even been able to decorate it myself, with LOWE’s permission of course. In the private sector I wasn’t even able to hang a calendar on the wall! It makes a huge difference.

Q. One of LOWE’s aims is to unlock aspirations through meanwhile living. How has being a licensee been a springboard for you to achieve your aspirations?
A. To be blunt, I wouldn’t be able to afford much in London if it weren’t for LOWE. It means I can afford to live near my work, and it allows me to study to increase my skills. I’ve been accepted on a part-time Master’s in forensic and mental health, which is a degree specifically for nurses working in custody or prisons – but the course fees are high. Being a living with LOWE allows me to further my education, which I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to do.