Meet Our CEO – The First Global Guardian
Meet the Global Guardians CEO, a man passionate about Guardianship who lived in Guardian properties for 10 years.
When starting a small business, finding a cause you care about is important. That couldn’t be truer for our CEO Stuart Woolgar who lived and breathed Guardianship before and after starting Global Guardians.
We recently spoke to him about his experience as a Guardian, why he decided to start Global Guardians and some of his tips for prospective Guardians.
Interviewer: So, Stuart, I hear you were the first Guardian that Global Guardians placed. Why did you decide to undertake that responsibility?
Stuart: Oh okay, good question. So the reason why is that I wanted to make sure the standards we gave to our Guardians were high from the start. The first building I moved into for Global Guardians was a 13-room care home and I lived upstairs. I was basically there to make sure all of the heating was working, that the water was working, and the electrics–essentially to ensure the building was properly functioning. I was also there to make sure all of the rooms were cleaned properly and kept in a good condition because the last thing you need in a Guardian property is when the standards have slipped.
Interviewer: Did you do that from the first day?
Stuart: Yeah. So from day 1, I made sure the standards were high, as a Guardian there I made sure the property was looked after properly, that the gardens were cut back since it was pretty badly overgrown when I moved in, things like that. But I also had to make sure the Guardians living there had a sense of why they were there. We were there to make sure that the building was looked after and to look after each other. We became a mini community of 13 people, so that was really good. If there were times when contractors didn’t turn up, I could feed that back to the office and we could sort that out since some contractors don’t follow process. I wanted to be an eye on the ground. I wanted to make sure the very first building we had was looked after really well.
Interviewer: You sort of got the inside scoop then, you could see what it feels like from a Guardians perspective.
Stuart: Yeah! Yeah, for me it was really interesting. I mean, moving in there was quite spooky because it was such a big building so it was pretty empty throughout. So when people used to move in, I made sure they had a good induction and knew what Guardianship was. At the end of the contract, I helped 2 or 3 of them find somewhere new to live. We rehoused around 50% but we were still quite small at the time so didn’t have enough spaces for everyone. I helped the ones who couldn’t move with us to move into other places.
Interviewer: For everyone out there looking to become a Guardian with us, what are your best tips?
Stuart: Ooh okay. Best tips… So, I would say the first one, for me personally, is whenever I took on a new building as a Guardian. With all the other Guardians there, we’d look to see which furniture could be reused and what type of things were left behind in the buildings. In a lot of these buildings, unusual items are left behind that can be turned into things like sideboards, cupboards, tables and chairs, things like that. It really adds to the look of the building. Sometimes they leave behind paintings, so it’s all about what you do with the stuff, recycling and reusing in a good way. That really helps when you first move somewhere. I still have things I found as a guardian in my home now! I’ve just accumulated them over the years.
Interviewer: Anything else?
Stuart: I think another important thing is to make the most of the area because obviously when I lived in Central London, Gower Street, Soho, it was a time I really enjoyed, I made the most out of it. I knew I’d never be able to live there again. I lived in Pimlico and I loved it, you’re in amongst all of these amazing buildings but there’s no way I could afford that otherwise. So, it’s all about making the most of where you are.
Interview: Yeah, those are some great tips. What about those in communal spaces?
Stuart: It’s so important to speak to other Guardians as part of a community. A lot of Guardians are very open-minded, very quirky, intelligent people and they offer a lot to our society that sometimes gets overlooked. A lot of the people I’ve met became long-term friends and I think you can definitely establish those relationships as a Guardian. A lot of the people are very creative, you know, they’re very skilled. So, I’ve lived with sculptors, artists, chefs, and people from all different walks of life. They all add something really important to a community. Speak to as many people as possible, and help each other out.
Stuart remains an invaluable part of the team to this day. He helps out in every department, filling in if there are absences or resource issues. He’s currently working in the finance department to streamline processes, as well as helping to generate leads so we can provide more affordable accommodation to our Guardians.
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