I recently graduated from university and like many of my friends, I was unsure of what to do next. Fully prepared to put off adulting for just a little bit longer by packing my bags on a quest to find myself in Thailand when a friend mentioned that there was a role at LOWE. I was intrigued and after a bit of research, it seemed like it could be a good fit.
Guardianship was a completely new concept to me, but as I familiarised myself with it, it surprised me that it wasn’t a more popular option for those struggling to find affordable accommodation in London.
I was born just around the corner from the LOWE offices in Streatham, however, due to the high cost of living in London, we moved further out to Kent. As a result, my Mum, a nurse was faced with a daily long and draining commute to the hospital she was working in at the time. When I heard about the LOWEkey initiative, I immediately felt that this was something that I could relate to and could really get involved with given that I’d seen first-hand the effects of high rental prices on key workers.
My first day at LOWE was a busy one right from the off. I was immediately introduced to the world of the commuter and travelling from Kent to Brixton found out for myself what it was like to get on a sweaty Victoria line at peak travel time. Once I’d got to the office, the team were very welcoming and I soon began to learn how the process takes place and all of the hard work that goes on when turning properties such as former pubs, hotels and even police stations into habitable places for the guardians. I have already heard so many stories of people from different age groups and different backgrounds finding friends and even relationships through LOWE properties.
This week, I visited a former taxi office in Bermondsey and met up with some guardians that had been living there for a number of years. I was able to see how they had collectively turned the building into such a welcoming home. Each guardian explained their individual circumstances and it became clear that whilst for some of them guardianship was vital in enabling them to pursue opportunities in London, for others it seemed that this way of living was very much a choice as a result of their positive experiences.
So far I have really enjoyed my time as an intern at LOWE and getting to know more about the industry. Whilst I know that the lifestyle of a guardian is not necessarily for everyone, I was pleased to discover that there is such a variety of people that choose to live this way and I look forward to meeting more people and hearing their stories as well as helping on new projects in the future!