30th January 2019
Would you know how to help a young person sleeping rough? Centrepoint does!
Would you know how to help a young person sleeping rough? Centrepoint does!

By Mandy Ferries, HR Director, FirstPort UK

We’ve all seen a young person sleeping in a doorway but what’s the best way to help them? Our corporate charity partner Centrepoint has been supporting homeless young people since 1969. It began as a shelter in the basement of a church in Soho, London, but now has over 60 accommodation services across the UK. 

As our charity partner for 2019 Centrepoint’s reach and expertise continues to impress me and all my colleagues. But rather than call the Centrepoint helpline, there are six ways they recommend we can help a homeless young person, especially now it’s winter.

1. Refer them to Streetlink

StreetLink allows members of the public to connect young people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them. This is the best way to find young people out on the streets immediate support in cold weather. You can download the StreetLink app from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.

You can also call their 24 hour helpline on 0300 500 0914 or visit their website. When you send an alert, you should include:

  1. A specific location where the young person is sleeping.
  2. The time you saw the young person at this location.
  3. Any information about the young person that will help outreach workers find them (for example, gender, age, what the person looks like, what they’re wearing).

If you can, it’s probably best to let the young person know you’re referring them, as they may not want their details shared with other agencies. You can also ask them if they’re happy to pass on their mobile number so it’s easier for outreach workers to contact them.

2. Stop and talk to the young person to see if there’s anything they need

This could include food, drink, thermals, bedding, a travelcard or a reusable water bottle. While long-term help makes the biggest difference, having a conversation with a young person over a cup of tea can be really important.

3. Get in touch with your council and ask about SWEP

SWEP stands for Severe Weather Emergency Protocol and provides emergency support for rough sleepers when the temperatures drop drastically. During SWEP councils open extra beds in night shelters as well as other services.

This is dependent on guidelines, but it’s worth checking with your council to see if SWEP is in operation and how those sleeping rough can access it. Find your local council here >

4.   Refer young people to day centres

Day centres offer practical help such as a hot meal and access to showers and laundry facilities. You can find your nearest day centre by using Homeless Link’s directory or calling the Centrepoint Helpline on 0808 800 0661.

5.   If you have some spare time, you might also be able to volunteer at a day centre if they need an extra pair of hands

If someone appears to be in immediate danger or seems unwell, please call 999.

6.   Call the Centrepoint helpline

Centrepoint’s helpline is there to offer advice to anyone in England aged 16-25 who’s homeless or at risk and connect young people to the right services. Call them for free on 0808 800 0661 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

You can also talk to them online (Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm) here:

Centrepoint has been supporting homeless young people since 1969. It began as a shelter in the basement of a church in Soho, London, but now has over 60 accommodation services across the UK. 

They've made a big difference to the lives of many young people, but there's still more to be done. Centrepoint estimates that 86,000 young people asked their local council for help in 2016/17 because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

This isn't acceptable. That's why we're committed to helping vulnerable young people break the cycle of homelessness.

24th January 2019
Den Automation launches its Smart Home product range in the UK after raising 5 million in funding
Den Automation launches its Smart Home product range in the UK after raising 5 million in funding
  • Den Automation was founded by Yasser Khattak in 2014 at the age of 17. He remains the youngest founder to ever raise funds on Seedrs
  • Den is the first and only brand who have designed smart light switches and socket outlets, without changing the way they look, enabling consumers to control them remotely and by hand as normal
  • Den’s smart device suite is controllable via the SmartPhone App, Amazon Echo and Google Home hubs from launch

Den, the startup reinventing the common switch, has announced its latest funding round of £2m, bringing its total investment to £5 million. The company also launched a suite of smart products designed to change the way we control and monitor electrical equipment, lighting and power usage in the home.

Notable investors include Thomas James, investor in ZenDesk, the Founder of Computers Unlimited, James Sanson, YESSS Group, the parent company of YESSS Electrical which is the UK’s fastest growing electrical wholesalers with over 100 branches in the UK, Mark Davies, a founding member of Betfair and Ian Marchant, former CEO at SSE for 10 years.

Den’s vision is to use smart home devices to change the way we control and monitor power usage in homes. Its first wave of products includes Smart Light Switches, Smart Sockets, Motion Sensor, Smart Remote and Den’s Smart Home Hub. Den also includes its revolutionary Smart Tags for tracking the location of appliances even if they are moved around the home & monitoring appliance power usage - whether laptops or phones from room to room or the location of high-risk appliances like irons and hair-straighteners, Den can track them at all times.

Den is the only firm in the world with the patent for truly smart switches and plugs that fit seamlessly into the home - deliberately identical to the plugs and switches the UK is most used to. Den deliberately adds modern tech driven functionality without changing the habits and rules of the household.

Den’s Founder and Chairman, Yasser Khattakcomments on the newly launched product range saying that,“Conventional light switches and socket outlets have been around for more than 100 years and have barely changed - we’re not the first to build wireless switches, they have been available for more than 20 years, however every single wireless switch in the world today has replaced the switch we’re familiar with for buttons or touch pads that are complicated and hard to use. We’re the only company in the world who’ve built wireless switches without taking away the original switch we’re so familiar with. Super excited having released products today. We are looking forward to following up with additional features and products in the coming months and years.”

All devices can be controlled and monitored via a smartphone app, and can integrate with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home as of today. Den’s Smart Tags allow users to track which appliances are draining the most energy and alert users to safety concerns. In the case of irons and hair straighteners, for example, Den can inform users about what they’ve left running too long, and if not responded to, automatically switch them off.

The idea of Den was that of Yasser Khattak in 2012, when tasked with going around the family home powering off lights and appliances. At just 15 years old, he saw an opportunity for change. Khattak believed there must be a more efficient way to control power in the home, being able to turn things off with a single tap. This firmly planted the vision of connecting everything on his evening route to an integrated smartphone app. Since then, Khattak has built Den from a one-man operation into a team of 28 in the UK and Poland. Central to the company’s vision from the onset has been the core ideal of inclusive design, adding extra functionality that works for everyone, be they able-bodied users, or people with physical or mental impairments.

The latest round of funding will be used in the production of the next range of devices for the home, which will include Den’s Smart Dimmer Switches as well as the entire range with chromed metal finishes. Funds will also be used to expand operations and the team, to enable further product integrations such as Homekit and explore opportunities with further integrations like IFTTT.

Speaking on the new round of investment, Founder and Chairman Yasser Khattak commented: “Since we first announced Den to the market four years ago, we have had an incredible amount of support from the Seedrs community, angel investors, and strategic partners. We’re delighted to welcome our new investors on the journey. Their expertise is incredibly valuable as we move from product development to market and look to further grow the team. We have a lot of plans for Den and it’s incredibly exciting to see our first products shipping this week!”

On his recent investment in Den, Ian Marchant, Director of Dunelm Energy and former longstanding CEO of SSE adds that: Den is providing a simple and elegant solution to bring our existing housing stock into the 21st century, allowing everyone to benefit from the advantages of the smart home revolution. As a long-standing believer in the future of home automation, I have been on the lookout to add to my investment portfolio. Den Automation was a no-brainer. I am not only delighted to have been able to invest, but I am also very much excited about the future it offers, both for work and for my home setup.”

Khattak's vision has helped him gain the trust of investors and notable tech leaders. In February 2017, Robert Watkins Joined the team as CEO. Watkins is a well-established stalwart of the tech world having notably been Sir Alan Sugar’s CEO at Amstrad for five years as well as being the firm’s director for over 20. Watkins was also notably the Managing Director at Euro Swiss International Ltd. in Hong Kong. 

18th January 2019
Principle wins huge contract to look after London, West Midlands and south England properties
Principle wins huge contract to look after London, West Midlands and south England properties

Principle Estate Management has been appointed to look after hundreds of apartments in London, the West Midlands and south England.

The major new national contract has come from Simarc Property Management Ltd, the management arm of the Wallace Group, which last year purchased Gray’s Inn Holdings Ltd. The Group now owns 106,000 leasehold properties.

Simarc had already commissioned Principle to manage ten developments last year, including a development of apartments each worth more than £1.5 million on America Street in London, just off Southwark Bridge Road near the Tate Modern art gallery.

Following its success on those initial properties, Principle has been asked to manage another 24 developments.

The new properties include sites in the London boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham, Sutton, Lambeth and Hounslow, and in various locations in the West Midlands, Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset.

Brett Williams, managing director of Principle, said: “Simarc represents professional freeholders who want things done properly, and it’s been a great experience working with such a supportive client.

“We’re delighted that after showing Simarc what we can do they have had the confidence to award us this major new contract.

“We are experienced in managing a national portfolio and are regularly getting ‘thank yous’ from customers who are not used to getting great customer service.

“We run a very thorough take-on process, carrying out a full review of all information from previous agents, including financial, health and safety, and general compliance reports, then going on to review all service providers and carefully forward planning any changes needed.

“We’re flattered but not surprised at the new instruction, as we know our great team of experienced people on property management, finance and administration is performing well for them.”

Mr Williams added: “The new properties fit into areas where we already have clusters from previous instructions, and we’ll be routinely inspecting each site at least every six weeks.”

Natalie Chambers, director of Simarc, said: “We’ve been impressed with Principle’s care and attention on the first instruction and we had no hesitation on awarding them this much larger contract.

“We want to make sure that our agents provide outstanding service to our customers, and Principle has quickly shown us that it can be relied on to deliver that.”

Principle was launched last year by Mr Williams, the former head of residential property management at CPBigwood in Birmingham and an experienced chartered surveyor. Although based in Birmingham, Principle offers a national property management service and has already won a series of contracts across the UK.

15th January 2019
FirstPort awarded 5Star grading in the British Safety Councils Occupational Health and Safety Audit
FirstPort awarded 5Star grading in the British Safety Councils Occupational Health and Safety Audit

For a third consecutive year FirstPort has achieved five stars in the Five Star Occupational Health & Safety Audit conducted by the British Safety Council.

The detailed and extensive safety audit was carried out by the British Safety Council in November and December, reviewing and examining our Health and Safety management system. FirstPort scored an exceptional 99.38% rating – an improvement on last year’s  98.9%.

The auditor said: The CEO and senior management team continually drive H&S performance. It is the first pillar in FirstPort’s overall value statements and is truly implemented from the top. The fact that the H&S Director is a member of the Executive Board helps to reinforce the positive culture and strong leadership.”

Nigel Howell, Chief Executive of FirstPort said: “Achieving the five star grading is outstanding, but achieving it three years in a row is exceptional. It is a great honour to achieve such a high grading from the British Safety Council, which has a world-wide reputation, and great recognition of the hard work of FirstPort staff. We put Health and Safety at the heart of everything we do at FirstPort. Everybody deserves to live and work in a safe environment and we are committed to making sure they do. However, we will strive to achieve 5 Stars again next year and work hard to maintain our standards and continue to lead the field.”

David Parr, Policy and Technical Services Director at the British Safety Council, said: “The award of a five-star grading following our occupational best practice Health and Safety Audit is an outstanding achievement and is reflective of a proactive organisation which is committed to continual improvement in its health and safety arrangements and managing risks to workers’ health, safety and welfare.”

FirstPort underwent a comprehensive, quantified and robust evaluation of its occupational health and safety policies, processes and practices. The audit process included documentation review, interviews with senior management, employees and other key stakeholders, together with sampling of operational activities.

17th December 2018
Leasehold Solutions mourns the death of founder Alex Greenslade
Leasehold Solutions mourns the death of founder Alex Greenslade

Leasehold Solutions is mourning the death of Alex Greenslade, who founded the project management company with his sister, Anna Bailey, in 2002.

Alex, 51, died suddenly at home on 12 December.


In the late 1990s, Alex was the owner of a leasehold flat with a relatively short lease. His landlord offered an extension, but with unfavourable terms. Not wanting to be bound to an unsatisfactory lease, Alex instead managed the freehold acquisition of his building on behalf of his neighbours.

Reflecting on how difficult the process was, Alex noticed a gap in the market and set up the first specialist leasehold enfranchisement project management company, working solely on behalf of leaseholders.

Alex was joined at Leasehold Solutions by his sister, Anna Bailey, and under their leadership, the company went from strength to strength. In 2007 Alex and Anna – in an effort to stop those ‘dabbling’ in the sector - went on to launch the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP). Following the success of Leasehold Solutions, Leasehold Valuers was established in 2013 and Leasehold Law in 2014. 

Louie Burns, Managing Director of the Leasehold Solutions group of companies, said: “Alex was a remarkable person who devoted his career to helping to improve the lives of leaseholders across the country. Thanks to his foresight and vision, Leasehold Solutions was born and has gone on to support thousands of leaseholders over the past 16 years.

“Alex's exceptional contribution to our companies, our sector, the wider property industry and our community cannot be overstated, and he will be gravely missed by all those who knew him. Our hearts are with Alex's family and loved ones at this tragic and difficult time.” 

A memorial service will be held in the New Year.

14th December 2018
With great sadness we announce the death of ALEP co-founder Alex Greenslade.
With great sadness we announce the death of ALEP co-founder Alex Greenslade.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of ALEP co-founder and Director, Alex Greenslade.

Alex, 51, who founded the professional membership association with his sister, Anna Bailey, died suddenly at home on 12 December.

Alex had worked with leaseholders since 1998 and was also co-founder and Chairman of the Leasehold Group of companies. Alex was a regular in the NOTB Hot 100 and was presented with the ERMAs Outstanding Achievement Award in 2017.

Clare Grove is ALEP’s spokesperson.  “Alex was a professional, a stickler for detail, a mighty intellect and a stalwart of the enfranchisement sector.  Together with Anna, he founded our association with the aim of bringing together those with expertise in this niche field, to tackle the behaviour of those he always called the ‘dabblers’ and to provide a badge of assurance to both leaseholders and freeholders.  He will be much missed by all who had the pleasure of working with him over the years. Our thoughts are with Anna and Alex’s family at this time.”

11th December 2018
Google Assistant Investments Program invests in UKs leading AI PM Platform, AskPorter
Google Assistant Investments Program invests in UKs leading AI PM Platform, AskPorter

Today, AskPorter has announced an investment from the Google Assistant Investments Program for the AI driven property management platform.

 At its heart sits ‘Porter,’ a digital artificial intelligence assistant for agents, property managers, and landlords that eliminates mundane tasks & delivers fast, efficient customer service.

 From one single platform, property & facilities managers, and landlords, can automate their workflows with AskPorter which over time learns and improves how they work in a completely customisable way. For tenants & occupants, Porter provides a 24/7 response accessible by text, voice & more providing them with a personal concierge.

 As part of the investment, AskPorter will have access to support and resources from Google’s technical, product, and business development teams. 

 Tom Shrive, Founder & CEO of AskPorter said: “We’re delighted to have been selected as the Google Assistant Investment Program’s first international investment. This is a very positive reflection on our product, our opportunity and our team. It’s incredibly exciting to be able to work with the experts at Google to improve the AI & machine learning technology that powers Porter.  We will be using the funds to attract more world-class talent into our team and build out product in preparation for our Series A early next year, for which we are seeing strong interest from investors.”

 AskPorter also today announces the launch of its ‘Porter Pioneers’ programme, a by application group of fifteen property agencies & institutional landlords across Residential, Commercial & other specialist property sectors.

Lasting for six months beginning January 2019, the AskPorter technical & property team will work closely with these agencies & property managers and landlords in automating their unique workflows & challenges, covering anything & everything involved with world class asset management: from qualifying potential leads & issuing bespoke AST’s, to collecting service charge payments, reconciling invoices & dealing with no heating.  

10th December 2018
ALEP welcomes Law Commissions commonhold reform consultation
ALEP welcomes Law Commissions commonhold reform consultation

The Law Commission has today published its eagerly awaited Consultation Paper on commonhold reform. Titled ‘Reinvigorating commonhold: the alternative to leasehold ownership’ the consultation is now open until 10th March 2019. 

The government’s recent consultation 'Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market' raised many questions concerning the future of leasehold as a form of residential land tenure in the 21st Century. It also indicated that Commonhold should be reviewed as an alternative to the residential leasehold system. Commonhold has been on the statute books since 2004, when the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 came into force.   

The Consultation Paper published today details proposals to make commonhold work for homeowners, developers, mortgage lenders and across the wider property sector. Key proposals include ways in which to:  

  • Make it simpler for existing leaseholders to convert to commonhold and gain greater control over their properties. 
  • Enable commonhold to be used for larger, mixed-use developments which accommodate not only residential properties but also commercial and leisure facilities.  
  • Permit shared ownership leases and other forms of affordable housing to be included within commonhold. 

Last February, on the day the Law Commission published its Call for Evidence on Commonhold, ALEP held is first Lecture to debate the subject. The Lecture saw more than 150 professionals attend to learn more about and discuss Commonhold.  

Mark Chick, ALEP Director and Committee member, said: “ALEP welcomes the latest round of consultations concerning Commonhold. The topic was widely debated by our members earlier this year and commonhold reform is crucial not only to the leasehold sector, but the wider property sector and will have implications for us all. 

"This is a consultation not to be missed and ALEP encourages all members to respond by the deadline in March 2019.”  

For more information on the consultation please visit  

3rd December 2018
Principle appointed to look after exclusive retirement village
Principle appointed to look after exclusive retirement village

Principle Estate Management has won the contract to look after an exclusive retirement village set in the West Midlands countryside.

Albany Meadows Ltd has appointed Principle to manage Albany Meadows on Albany Lane in Balsall Common, a much sought-after rural location between Solihull and Coventry.

Albany Meadows is an over-55 retirement development made up of 23 two-bedroomed apartments, 12 two-bedroomed bungalows and four three-bedroomed houses.

The homes are set in attractive landscaping to create a spacious, tranquil village environment, with a residents’ lounge and central village green providing communal spaces.

Mike Leto, project director for Amber Infrastructure – the long-term investors in Albany Meadows – said: “We will continue to be active stakeholders in Albany Meadows and therefore it was vital to appoint a customer-focused managing agent with the professional capability to manage such a prestigious scheme.

“Getting Principle involved at the earliest possible stage allowed them to provide valuable input, highlighting long-term management issues and providing solutions at the outset.

“The scheme was built to the highest standards but we also needed to be mindful that ongoing service charge had to remain affordable and Principle’s experience and input was crucial in this area.

“We will continue to oversee the management of the completed development and feel that Principle will help support us in our objective to maintain high estate management standards at Albany Meadows for many years to come.”

Principle’s lead director on the contract is Joe Jobson, who joined the company earlier this year. He said: “Albany Meadows is going to be a fantastic scheme and one that Principle Estate Management is delighted to be involved in.

“We’re pleased that Amber has shown such faith in Principle, and we’re looking forward to working with owner-residents to make a great success of the development.”

The company is based at Cornwall House in Lionel Street, Birmingham, and offers a national property management service.

3rd December 2018
Double appointment at newly launched property consultancy
Double appointment at newly launched property consultancy

Weston-super-Mare property consultancy Mcilroy Smith has strengthened its South West team with a double appointment.

The firm will mark its first Christmas by expanding its team to serve a growing number of clients across the South West Region.

Experienced property manager Mark Neighbour joins from one of Bristol’s well-known property companies and will lead on Social Housing and retirement living.

Managing Director Andrew Simmonds said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be announcing these appointments today. It sets a key milestone for us as a business and highlights the ambition we have to become a major player in the local property scene.

“I have known Mark for a few years and always admired his ability to retain a harmonious relationship with all of his clients. He has always been at the top of my list of key appointments to make. Mark has more than five years’ experience in these sectors and will play a vital role as we develop the business.”

Mark is an Associate member of the Institute of Residential Property Managers and a member of both the National Federation of Property Professionals and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

“Crucially for us, he has a background in Residential Lettings, Residential Management, Commercial Management and Social Housing. Mark will not only take the lead on Social Housing and Retirement Living but also support the growing Residential services we are providing.”

Also joining the business will be Andrew’s wife Tracey, who has worked in the public sector for many years, including Local Government. Most recently she has been overseeing and coordinating property developments in the region.

Andrew Simmonds said: “Tracey has a great deal of experience overseeing refurbishment and construction projects, coordinating teams of sub-contractors, handling all aspects of health and safety compliance and liaising between contractor and client.”

Tracey is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and is an affiliate member of the Institute of Residential Property Management. Her role is to work closely with contractors and clients to co-ordinate maintenance matters.

Mcilroy Smith, has opened in Pastures Avenue, St Georges, Weston-super-Mare, alongside the M5 to enable it to service clients throughout the region.

Andrew Simmonds added: “We are aiming to provide a bespoke service that bigger property agencies aren’t able to offer. We have been called in by property owners who need help and support on many aspects of property management, from specific projects to long term portfolio handling.

“We are also working with developers and housing associations to help them get things right from the very start of a project as well as providing general and strategic advice to property owners and landlords.”

Mcilroy Smith is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and can be found at or call 0333 050 8550.

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