LHA London has a long history of providing safe and affordable accommodation in the capital. The Stage spoke to chief executive Tony Perkins, who explains how LHA’s flexibility is ideal for anyone working outside the usual nine-to-five, and how volunteering can bring down costs while providing valuable experience...
Sky-high rents. Lazy landlords. Unsafe facilities. Crippling contracts. Everyone has a horror story of living in London. Navigating the capital’s crazy housing system can be extremely challenging, even for the most experienced city-dweller. For those unfamiliar with it – drama students leaving home for the first time, actors only in town for a few weeks – it can be almost impossible.
“This shouldn’t be the case”, says Tony Perkins, chief executive of LHA London, a charitable enterprise and one of the capital’s leading accommodation providers.
“Young people coming to London want to feel safe and secure in their chosen accommodation. Whether appearing on stage or attending drama school – or something else entirely different – location, safety and budget is critical. They also need to know that their accommodation can be flexible. Private landlords offering fixed-period leases tend to restrict options as work or study circumstances change. LHA London offers an easy entry and exit deal with a low deposit and a short seven-day notice period.”
LHA London has been providing accommodation in London for more than 80 years, ever since it was first founded during the Second World War to provide shelter for those bombed out of their homes during the blitz. Clementine Churchill – Winston’s wife – opened the first hostel in January 1941. The cost of staying there? Just a pound a week, and a shilling extra for meals.
Things have changed since then, of course, but LHA London’s charitable aims remain the same: to provide safe and affordable accommodation to those young people that need it the most such as interns, apprentices, actors, and students (both domestic and international) – and to do so without needing to break the bank to stay there. This is based on LHA London’s firm belief that the cost of accommodation shouldn’t be a barrier to young people, whatever their chosen career or education path.
With 14 large residential properties located in some of central London’s most iconic neighbourhoods – stretching from Hounslow in the west, to Canary Wharf in the east, Stoke Newington in the north and Elephant and Castle in the south – there’s a spot on the map to suit everyone’s needs. Most are superbly situated in zones one and two, only a short bus or bike ride away from the city centre and the world-class entertainment of the West End, meaning travel costs are kept to a minimum.
’With LHA London, you know there is flexibility if your situation changes’
Accommodation options include everything from single studios to shared rooms, both catered and self-catered – and all bills such as WiFi, cleaning, maintenance, council tax and contents insurance are included. And, thanks to the flexibility LHA London offers, moving in and out of its hostels is cheap and convenient, providing priceless peace of mind.
“Coming to London to study or to appear in a show can feel daunting with so many unknown situations. For example, how long will the show run? What if it gets cancelled? What if it gets extended? With LHA London, you know there is flexibility if your situation changes.”
There are other questions that could concern someone about to start living in London for the first time. How will I meet people? How will I make friends? How will I keep fit? What will I do for food? What will I do for money? How will I stay safe? LHA London can help with some of the answers.
All hostels have staff on-site 24/7 and CCTV – offering safety, security and support to residents – as well as large communal areas and kitchens where residents can get to know one another. What’s more, several hostels have free gyms on-site too, making exercise affordable and accessible – something that is certainly not always the case in the capital.
“Lots of co-living arrangements in London are prohibitively expensive, yet we offer affordable co-living in central locations. Residents at our properties can cook, eat, and socialise together. We also offer catered options. Living at an LHA London property offers a great way to make new friends in a new city.”
And what about money? Accommodation with LHA London ranges from £79 per week to £300 per week – from the extremely reasonable to the reasonable in London terms, and only a small deposit is required. There is, however, a way of making your stay at LHA London even more affordable – and that’s by volunteering.
“For 20 hours of volunteering per week, we can provide accommodation and food for free. Of course, we know that neither the lifestyle of a student or the lifestyle of a stage performer suits regular nine-to-five work, so we can be completely flexible with volunteering hours.”
Volunteering in areas such as housekeeping, reception and catering support can generally be arranged to dovetail into the working shifts. It’s a win-win situation because not only will volunteers gain great experience for their future, they will also receive free bed and board in return, and meet lots of like-minded new people at the same time.”
Plenty of people moving to London later this year – whether they are embarking on an acting degree, starring in a show or in search of other employment – will be leaving home for the first time. They will be moving to a new city and leaving family and friends behind. At LHA London, new friends are waiting for them – and a new family too.
"LHA provides a ‘family feel’ in all of our hostels,” says Tony Perkins. “I think it is partly because they are safe and secure environments, partly because they are affordable and not exploitative like a lot of accommodation options in the city, but mostly because they are full of like-minded young people, all living in London for the first time and loving the experience.”
To find out more about volunteering at LHA London click here
For all other information or to make an enquiry or booking, please visit: lhalondon.com