Swindon firm helps homeless charity with legal advice

By Jessica Durston - 6 July 2022

  • Iain Mason, Head of Legal at Optimum

    Iain Mason, Head of Legal at Optimum

A programme to increase available bed spaces for Swindon’s homeless people is being supported with legal advice from Optimum Professional Services.

The scheme by Swindon’s homeless charity Threshold -which this year marks its 50th anniversary of helping the town’s homeless - involves purchasing its own additional properties and also partnering with private property owners to utilise HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and other properties in the town.

Now the charity says it is on course to more than double its amount of available bed spaces this year, which are used as temporary supported accommodation by homeless people, providing a stepping stone to having their own independent place to live.

Michael Keenan, Threshold's Chief Development Officer said: “We have an ambitious development plan which will enable us to be even more socially and positively impactful.

“That plan includes acquiring our own freehold properties and partnering with private investors and landlords.”

Threshold bought a new property in 2021, for which Optimum carried out the conveyancing.

This was the first freehold purchase by Threshold in many years, and the house is being used as a homeless SWAP – Sex Worker Accommodation Project – the first of its kind in Swindon.

Michael added: “We have seen a massive spike in the number of deeply traumatised and vulnerable women who are having to resort to prostitution just to make ends meet.” 

“This project has now been running for ten months and is going extremely well, managing to accommodate women previously marginalised with no reasonable and timely options to leave behind rough sleeping and the additional dangers that represented for them.”

Threshold worked with Optimum to shape a legal framework to make it simple for property owners and landlords to partner with Threshold to deliver projects that represent value and security to landlords, while helping landlords and investors to support positive social impact through their partnership with the charity.

Michael said: “Optimum’s work for us has been outstanding in presenting a clear and fair agreement for our partners to consider, which has made our process of expansion much smoother and transparent for all parties. 

“We have now attracted private investors and property owners who are buying property specifically to our specifications so they can partner with us and enjoy contributing to the work we do and have a sound return on investment also. Investors are purchasing properties to lease to us, and existing HMO owners are transitioning their properties to Threshold in order to help those most in need of housing.”

One recent acquisition leased to Threshold was dedicated for LGBTQ+ guests, which is another first for the charity, and for Swindon.

Michael added: “We are very keen to hear causes dear to our supporters’ hearts and of course we are also keen to fill gaps and meet needs that are often acute but overlooked or under-met.”

Iain Mason, Head of Legal at Optimum, said: “This is a very forward-thinking and creative way of increasing the provision for Swindon’s homeless people, which is proving a huge success, and we are delighted to have been able to contribute.” 

More information about Threshold can be found on its website at https://www.thl.org.uk/.

More about Optimum, which provides legal and accountancy services, can be found at https://www.optps.co.uk/.

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