CEO of GLOBAL GUARDIANS MANAGEMENT
Widely experienced after many years working in both the property and security industry, Stuart Woolgar, CEO of Glob-al Guardians Management, is a man with a strong business focus but who also thinks outside the box and utiliz-es innovative and progressive ideas to not only push his company forward but to lead his sector of the industry from the front. Always wanting to raise standards, he has encouraged and suc-cessfully campaigned for tighter regu-lation in his sector, such as introducing a new British Standard, and sought to distance his organization from the neg-ative perceptions some still have about property guardianship. He has always championed inclusiveness and found a way to operate a hugely successful busi-ness while at the same time bringing a social dimension and conscience to the operation, which is reflected in all as-pects of the way the company is run.
“Have you ever struggled to make ends meet when you’ve had to choose be-tween paying your rent and bills and buying food? Or simply struggled to pay the rent to keep a roof over your head, never mind bills and food? Sad-ly, even now in the 2020’s, and even with a benefits system that is supposed to protect the less well off, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Moreover, and unfortunately, the events of the past 18 months with the repercussions of Covid and lockdowns on the coun-try’s economy with the subsequent loss of jobs, this situation has been exac-erbated. We are also now seeing the rise of a new phenomenon, what has been dubbed ‘the cardboard econo-my’. These are individuals who are in paid work, but still homeless and often sleeping on the streets,” says Stuart.
Global Guardians have a possible solu-tion for many people on lower incomes, and it isn’t something new. Property guardianship is a strange phenome-non, and Stuart is still amazed when he comes across people who have no idea what it is or how it works.
For those who don’t know about property guard-ianship, in a nutshell, it is a Protection By Occupation service which complies with British Standard BS8584:2015, and a standard Global Guardians helped create and continuously develop
The format of Protection By Occupa-tion is simple in theory, but more com-plex in practice, due to the numerous factors at play. Global Guardians care-fully select and vet working profession-als, from key workers to architects, from schoolteachers and hospitality service staff to actors, dancers, and musicians, who in turn protect the vacant prop-erties under their remit from trespass, anti-social and criminal behavior, met-al theft, damage and squatting… and plenty more.
Global Guardians’ expert maintenance operatives convert vacant or derelict properties given into their care by their owners into temporary living space for the Property Guardians to protect by occupation until the building is sold, demolished, or re-purposed and re-furbished. The guardians pay Global Guardians a license fee to live in the converted property, not rent as they are not tenants, and this fee is usually considerably less than equivalent rents for accommodation in the surround-ing area. Although by necessity their accommodation is temporary, many of the buildings they protect lie empty for years while their owners debate what to do with them, or the eternal planning applications go through, or for a variety of other reasons, so they have guard-ians who have been occupying build-ings for long periods.
“We have taken on all manner of buildings over the years and turned them into safe, secure and comfort-able accommodation. Everything from churches, factories, offices, blocks of flats and houses to hospitals, libraries, entertainment venues and all manner of unique, historical or listed proper-ties,” adds Stuart. “It’s amazing what our maintenance team can accomplish and they only need the basic utilities of electricity and water to create a viable living space. For our property owners, they sleep peacefully at night knowing their buildings are not only being pro-tected from illegal occupation or oth-er problems, but that our maintenance teams are keeping the fabric of the building in good order and with securi-ty in situ, their insurers are also happy.”
Global Guardians have created, devel-oped, and run their own innovative, industry-leading software, MyGlobe, through the relevant portals of which the property owners, guardians, office staff and various maintenance teams and specialist contractors can keep track of all elements related to their ownership, residence or maintenance of each property they secure, wheth-er it is a guardian reporting damage, a maintenance operative doing a site check, an owner checking his contract with them, or all the dozens of other property details.
Global Guardians is run as a very tight ship. Having been closely involved in the setting up of British Standard BS 8584:2015, something for which he campaigned for years, it is paramount to Stuart that Global Guardians ad-heres to this Code of Practice to the letter and beyond, not just giving it lip service like some other companies. The Standard has brought clarity to the market and aids crime prevention to benefit property owners, security pro-viders, property developers, insurers, builders, and local authorities, among many others. As with Caesar’s wife and the old expression, he expects the staff at Global Guardians and anyone work-ing with his organisation to be beyond reproach, so the company is seen as ethical, responsible, and trustworthy in its operations, by its clients and also the guardians who look after the properties on the company’s behalf.
“We strive to be the best and most re-liable and trustworthy in what we do. That sets us apart from the competi-tion, especially with our focus on be-ing inclusive, ethical, caring and socially aware. We regard ourselves as a ‘safe pair of hands’ in the way we operate,” says Stuart. “The fact that we work with virtually every London council, lead-ing national housing associations and property developers, safeguarding their vacant properties, speaks for itself.”
Stuart adds, “you cannot preach about having a social conscience without demonstrating it in practice. We en-courage our guardians in larger proper-ties to form little communities of their own, which they truly appreciate, like being part of a larger or friendly fam-ily, which is wonderful for those who have felt abandoned by society, or lost, for various reasons; and to outreach to their neighbours and the wider com-munity around where they live.” The guardians have helped out with older adults, tending their gardens or doing odd jobs for them, or getting involved in community initiatives like a recent one at a local school in east London where they talked and counseled local teenagers, encouraging them to seek further education, jobs or career paths.
For the days to come, Global Guard-ians will continue to develop and build on their existing culture, which consists of progressive, safe hands, inclusive alongside the ideal team player set of attributes they encourage amongst the team, guardians, and stakeholders.