By bringing together people from different backgrounds and generations, a UK charity is playing its part in creating a more inclusive, caring and sustainable society.
When the topic arises of enabling older people to remain in their own homes and live independently for as long as possible, it can all-too-easily be assumed that support goes in just the one direction. But a UK charity called Homeshare UK is demonstrating that – with a little bit of help – the synergies can go two ways; and, just as importantly, across the generations.
Homeshare UK is a unique initiative that aims to foster intergenerational relationships and support within communities. It connects older people who have a spare room in their homes with younger people in need of affordable accommodation.
It is is based on the simple principle that, by sharing living space and household tasks, both parties benefit from companionship, practical support, and the chance to learn from one other.
Homeshare UK operates across the country and has already helped to change the lives of thousands of people. It is part of a growing movement of community-led initiatives that seek to promote social cohesion, mutual aid, and shared responsibility. Bringing together people from different backgrounds and generations, goes the argument, can make a significant contribution to creating a more inclusive, caring and sustainable society.
So how does it work?
Homeshare UK is a national network of locally based accredited programmes and each programme is run by an organisation embedded in the local community and is tailored to the needs of its participants. It is part of Shared Lives Plus – the UK membership charity with more than 6,000 Shared Lives carers, which runs 150 Shared Lives programmes and has a growing network of over 25 Homeshare providers.
The basic idea is that a homeowner (usually an older person) shares their home with a homesharer (usually a younger person) who is looking for affordable accommodation. In exchange for a good quality and affordable place to live, the homesharer agrees to provide ten hours a week of practical support and companionship to the homeowner.
The type of support that a homesharer provides varies depending on the needs and preferences of the homeowner, but personal care is never involved. Examples of help that might be provided include:
- undertaking household chores such as cleaning, cooking, and gardening;
- providing companionship and emotional support, including sharing meals and social activities;
- doing practical tasks such as shopping, errands and transport.
A small fee is paid by the homeowner and also by the homesharer to the Homeshare provider who will: make a careful match; carry out all safety checks, such as DBS and references; arrange initial agreements; be on hand throughout the initial trial period and attend meetings and on call for the duration of the match.
The benefits for older people…
Sharing their home is particularly important for older people who may be feeling isolated, lonely, or vulnerable: they get the chance to have regular social contact and to feel part of a community.
Homeshare UK also offers older people the chance to remain living independently in their own home for longer. This can be particularly valuable for those who may be struggling with minor health conditions or mobility issues. By having a homesharer living with them, they can feel more confident about their safety and wellbeing.
A safer option than living alone for older people, it provides companionship, increases safety, reduces expenses, and provides peace of mind for family members.
… and those for younger people
Homeshare UK is also important for younger people who may be struggling to find affordable accommodation, particularly in expensive urban areas. By living with an older person, they can benefit from quality affordable accommodation and can save money on bills and other expenses. This can be a real lifeline for those who are on a low income or who are starting out in their careers.
In addition, Homeshare UK offers younger people the chance to learn from older people and to gain valuable life skills. Living with an older person can provide a unique perspective on life and can help to broaden horizons and challenge assumptions. Younger people can also benefit from the emotional support and companionship that comes with sharing a home with someone who cares for them.
Find out more
To find out more about Homeshare UK and locate your local provider, visit https://homeshareuk.org/