Former Sunday Times journalist Katharine Hibbert set up the award-winning enterprise ‘Dot Dot Dot’, which is now acknowledged as an ingenious idea that turns unused buildings into affordable places to live for those who dedicate their lives to voluntary work. Dot Dot Dot stands for property guardianship done in a way which serves the interests of property owners, property guardians and local communities, with their commitment to making communities safer and stronger.
Katharine founded the enterprise in 2011 after writing a book called Free: ‘Adventures On The Margins Of A Wasteful Society’, which covers topics around the amount of waste the UK generates, giving example that empty Property is a large proportion of this.
The aims are to cut numbers of homelessness and people living in poverty by using the concept of property guardianship and offering these places for a third below local market rent to people who will give back and benefit the community, in conclusion stopping the likes of squatters, vandalism and further crime within areas of the UK.
The concept of property guardianship started in the Netherlands in the mid 1990s, when a security company introduced it as a way to prevent squatters. Katharine didn’t just see Dot Dot Dot as a way to protect properties, but to improve ones lifestyle/situation by giving them a little support and guidance whilst utilising what is seen as an inconvenience to many property owners around the UK, as they wait for long term planning permission etc.
Katharine explained, “Everyone was just looking at it as a security solution, but if you give someone a place to live below market rent, you can completely transform what they do with their life,” she says. “I personally think a pretty good ambition is to get through life in the most decent way possible. And to try to be kind to people, and give time to causes to help others, and volunteering,”
The first property that Dot Dot Dot offered was a four-bedroom house in north-west London that was set to be empty for six weeks. Dot Dot Dot are already housing hundreds of people, and supporting them to give tens of thousands of hours of voluntary effort to good causes. Katharine explains “there is potential to do so much more with the firm and that in doing so will increase safer and stronger communities”
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