Three Years In: The LOWE Guardians Story So Far..
On May 9th 2019, a notification on LinkedIn informed me that it was LOWE Guardians’ third birthday.
Since starting out our journey in 2016, we’ve barely had a chance to draw breath but now feels like the right time to look back and reflect on what has been an incredible three years.
Since establishing LOWE, guardian schemes remain as relevant as ever in helping address some of society’s most prevalent issues. It was only last week that a report in the BBC sited high rents making young people less mobile, actively preventing them from moving to cities with greater opportunities. As pay gains are being swallowed up by rising house costs, many young people simply aren’t able to move to cities like London anymore. You can add ‘stifling entrepreneurship’ to the long list of adverse impacts that result from spiralling rents.
LOWE has always tried to operate with these issues at the forefront of our minds, which is perhaps why we’ve experienced strong growth since establishing in 2016. As of today, LOWE is actively managing 75 live buildings across London, Brighton, Winchester and Bournemouth and currently houses 600 guardians in a safe and secure environment, in properties ranging from both nightclubs and pubs to police stations and banks. At the same time as expanding our offering, we’ve also built an excellent property management team in the heart of Brixton.
Since opening in 2016, we’ve provided over 3,000 young professionals, key workers and creatives with an affordable home, whilst at the same time providing security for over 150 buildings.
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, but it certainly hasn’t been easy. Nobody can really prepare you for the challenges of running your own business. The successes that our team celebrates are not only down to both an element of luck and a lot of hard work, but also what we consider to be the greatest driver – our ability to stick to our strong values and our unwavering commitment to running guardianships differently.
From the very outset of setting up the business, I wanted LOWE to have a strong sense of purpose and commit to doing guardianships the right way. In fact, LOWE was really borne out of frustration from my own personal experience of other guardian schemes. The guardian industry as a whole is still being tarred with the same old brush. If you type guardian schemes into Google, you will see stories of impersonal spaces, squalid conditions and a ‘disconnect’ between guardian and provider. There are even stories of unsafe living conditions.
The reality is that guardian schemes don’t have to be like this. At LOWE, we pride ourselves on providing affordable, inspiring places for our valuable younger generations to live and thrive in. At the same time, we provide property owners with a low-cost, professional and reliable solution to keeping their building secure. That’s our offer, it really is that simple.
Whatever property we take on, the conditions have to be right for both the owner of the property and the potential guardians living there. We won’t commit unless we know that we can deliver a fantastic experience to both parties.
Aside from our core values and commitment to delivering a superior experience for both property owners and guardians, we also try to be different in other ways. We’ve found that it’s often the smallest touches that make the difference. It’s not rocket science, but building a strong sense of community is incredibly important in enhancing a guardian’s experience. For many people, where you live and your personal space is intrinsic to you and your personality. We try to be empathetic of that. We hold film nights, organise barbeques, take pride in the communal spaces and have introduced SkillSwap, a platform where the talents of our guardians can be shared throughout their communities. We also ensure that kitchens and bathrooms are well fitted out and we have cleaners on a regular basis in our larger properties.
As for the property owners, they have peace of mind that their building has 24-hour security from a professional property management company and they benefit from reduced business rates. They also alleviate the issue of squatters, safe in the knowledge that their vacant property is being put to good use, filled with engaged guardians that take pride in where they live.
I look ahead to the rest of 2019 and 2020 with great excitement. I’m sure there will be great challenges ahead – there always is – but if we can remain true to our values in doing guardian schemes the right way, I have every confidence that we can continue to offer a safe, effective solution to both property owners and guardians.
Until the UK government makes a consolidated attempt to tackle both the current housing crisis and the spiralling rents which are forcing many key workers and young professionals to live at home, guardianship will always remain an effective, safe solution.
The plan over the next month is to take our business nationally across the rest of the UK – so that more people can benefit from an effective, well-run guardianship.
If you wish to get in touch or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you all every success for the rest for 2019.