The Barbican Centre is the largest performing Arts centre in Europe and is home to such institutions as the London Symphony Orchestra. However for the last two days its cavernous halls were ringing with the sounds of the Landlord and Letting show, where we had set up a NextDoor project stall in an attempt to entice landlords to join our scheme.
We certainly attracted the attention of a number of landlords, although how much that had to do with Romin and my magisterial presence and how much to do with the NextDoor promotional banner (which was bubble gum pink, several shades adrift of the dignified and authoritative red of the Z2K logo it was supposed to be), it is impossible to say.
A number of potentially good leads were gathered, although attendance was considerably lower than the 4,500 visitors that the organisers claimed had pre-registered. Quite a number of Landlords I spoke to owned property a long way outside London, and I had to explain that whilst we have nothing in principle against Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff etc. we were trying , as much as was possible, to keep our clients as close to their work, families and communities as we possibly could.
There was a small but significant few who were unsympathetic (to put it mildly) to the aims and objectives of Z2K. For these people any mention of the words charity, homelessness or benefit claimants triggered rants to which I felt sorely tempted to respond that they had missed their vocation in life and should be applying to the Daily Mail as leader writers forthwith!
On the plus side I have received one call already from a contact made at the show from a Landlord with rooms to let in Maidstone, which at 60 minutes from Victoria might just work for someone.
We also made some very valuable contacts with other exhibitors, and hope we will be cooperating with some of these, such as St Giles Trust, The London Probation service, Real Lettings, (The PRS division of Broadway) and a property maintenance company on the stand next to ours who said they would be prepared to give us access to their database of several hundred landlords.
One conversation however stands out as a perfect illustration of the chaos that is being created in the wake of the so called reforms to Housing Benefit. A housing officer from Brent got chatting to me on our stand, ‘were we able’, he asked insouciantly, to accept referrals from Brent, ‘quite possibly’ I said, ‘Great..’ he replied, ‘I’ll be emailing you the contact details of 1300 people in my borough who are about to be made homeless.’