I’m Greg Bassam – Strategic Planner for Transport for London.
What are your passions and interests?
I love competing in and watching triathlons, road cycling and track cycling. I also like watching rugby and football (life as a Sunderland fan is never dull!).
How did you come to live at The Collective Old Oak?
I saw an article by the BBC and really loved the concept! And my tenancy at my existing flat was about to expire so thought I would book a tour. Once I saw the facilities of the building I was sold!
What is the best thing about living here?
It’s great getting to know people in the building — there are some many different types of people. I also love the fact that the community managers encourage residents to organise events — it gives things a more organic, ‘real’ community feel, rather than everything happening because of the staff.
What was it like meeting your neighbour?
I’ve just moved rooms, and I’m now living in a room next door to a lass I became friendly with just after I moved in. We first met when someone posted something on the community Facebook page about going for a bike ride, and we were the only two who turned up. Cycling buddies are hard to come by so when I meet one I tend to keep them close… and you don’t get much closer than sharing a bathroom!
Had you heard of co-living before?
No — when I saw the BBC article it was the first time I had heard of the concept!
Do you think co-living is something that would appeal to a lot of people?
Yeah, it’s brilliant! There’s such a diverse mix of people of all ages and backgrounds, so I can’t imagine anyone not finding it appealing. It can be a little bit daunting when you first move in, especially if you’re slightly introverted, but if you throw yourself into the concept you’ll find that everyone is very welcoming.
How would you describe the community at The Collective Old Oak?
Friendly, diverse, welcoming, interesting and unique.
Have you been to any member events?
The Friday Drinks are a great way of meeting people. I’ve heard they tend to go on long into the early hours, but that’s well after I’m tucked up. The Sunday evening film is always a good way to finish of the weekend as well. My favourite is the Pot-Luck meal — it’s great to cook and chat to people, and it helps that there are some good cooks in the building!
What are your favourite spaces at Old Oak?
I like catching up on emails etc. in the lobby as it’s a good way of bumping into people as they come and go, and it’s always nice to pop down and chat to whoever’s at reception. The sauna is great — there’s nothing better than coming in when it’s cold outside, or after you’ve done a hard exercise session want to unwind. The top floor kitchens are really cool for cooking and dining in.
What do you like about living in London?
I love commuting to work along the canals and through the parks — it’s really special, even on the cold winter mornings! And it’s great to have so many facilities — everything from a world-class Velodrome at Stratford to the Royal Institution for listening to leading scientists present their latest material. There’s something for everyone in London!
What would you say to someone who is considering moving to Old Oak?
Do it, you won’t regret it. Come with an open mind and be ready to engage and you won’t want to live anywhere else again!
What have you learnt from living in such a large, connected community?
That some people are able to live off just eating breaded chicken for all their meals! And that people living in London aren’t as ‘closed’ if they’re given the opportunities to open up.
Has anything surprised you about the co-living experience?
How generous and giving the staff are. Having had a stream of nightmare landlords and letting agencies, it’s really refreshing to live in a place where the staff genuinely want to help and make sure you enjoy your experience — rather than just seeing you as £. It’s really great that the staff want to make community living a success. I was also surprised at how willing residents are to give up their time and skills to help other residents. Old Oak is a place built on community sharing rather than looking to make money from people, which is a welcome change in London.
Interview by Grace Waters