Member Stories Victoria Barker 01/06/2023

National Volunteer Week: The community-minded Portsmouth landlord lending a hand

The Week 1st June-7th June marks National Volunteering Week. In this article first published in our award-winning member magazine Property, we chat to landlord Oliver Oakley about his volunteering at a soup kitchen in Portsmouth.

During the week, landlord and entrepreneur Oliver Oakley is busy managing his property portfolio and glass collection company.

But when Wednesday rolls around it’s a different story, with Oliver serving up breakfast at a soup kitchen in Southsea, Portsmouth.

In fact, since last summer, Oliver has spent as much free time as he can during the week volunteering with the LifeHouse. The soup kitchen provides free hot breakfasts and dinners on a drop-in basis for anyone who needs it in Southsea.

“I began volunteering at the LifeHouse last summer, though it was something I had considered doing for a while”, begins Ollie. “I grew up in Fareham, so I had heard about the charity though never knew the full extent of what they do until I began volunteering there. The charity is housed in a beautiful blue and white building, it is well known locally”.

“The pandemic and particularly the lockdowns made me realise I wanted to do something to help vulnerable people in the community. I opened my laptop and wrote to the manager of the LifeHouse asking about how I could get involved”.

Oliver received a reply to his email almost instantly, and two weeks later he started his role, helping serve breakfast on Wednesday mornings. A listening ear Since August, Oliver has spent more than one hundred hours volunteering at the LifeHouse both in person and behind the scenes.

While his role at the centre is varies greatly, Oliver says the most rewarding part of his role is being a listening ear.

“The centre runs a Wednesday breakfast, and it is also open on a Thursday evening for a big homemade dinner. This is a very popular weekly event and the whole team put in such a fantastic effort every single week to ensure everyone that comes through our doors has a lovely time”, says Oliver, adding: “I also help run the social media channels for the charity.

My favourite part of the volunteering though is getting to know people who come to the centre. As the saying goes, the greatest thing you can give someone is your time, and I totally agree. “

Sometimes people come in to have breakfast and they may also be quite lonely. As volunteers we’re there to create a welcoming environment where people feel they can talk openly and make new friendships. I find it rewarding sharing a cup of coffee with people and helping them to open up”.

Managing a business with volunteering

Oliver became an accidental landlord 5 years ago, and since then he has built up a portfolio of 9 properties (All single lets) across Portsmouth.

Alongside his portfolio of properties, community minded Oliver also founded and runs a kerbside glass collection business, with the aim of making it easier for his community to recycle glass. He believes his work in the community also helps make him a better landlord.

“I think the majority of landlords strive to provide good quality housing in the community which in turn improves the community for those that live in it. I think it’s important for landlords to volunteer as it enables us to make a difference, meet new people (being a landlord can be quite an unsociable job and of course become more of a key player in the community".