The pandemic has shown how loneliness and isolation affects everyone, with many people living alone feeling more cut-off than ever. The need for alternative accommodation solutions within the community has never been greater, and Homeshare initiatives demonstrate the positive role of intergenerational living.
Alternative approaches to address health and social care challenges, and the housing crisis, have never been more important; with the COVID-19 pandemic giving rise to the number of people, regardless of age, experiencing increased loneliness and isolation, the positive effect of Homeshare and intergenerational living has been brought to the forefront.
The roots of Homeshare date back forty years. Homeshare is a well-established service, yet despite this, is still not fully recognised as a mainstream choice. Homeshare is a sustainable and affordable option that enables people across all ages to enjoy the benefits of community-based living; however, it is still to become part of the everyday ‘conversation’ when considering options for support and accommodation.
In our experience as the largest provider of Homeshare services nationally, since the start of the pandemic, they have become a more attractive housing solution for older Householders looking for company and support, as well as for younger Homesharers looking for a home. Through matching people who need an affordable place to live, with older people who have a spare bedroom, Homeshare reduces demand on housing support services whilst also addressing under-occupation of housing. Over the past year, Share and Care Homeshare saw a 23 per cent increase in new Householder registrations, as well as an increased number of Sharer enquiries. Notably, there has been an increase in enquiries from Sharers considering opportunities in more rural locations. This reflects the change in working practice since the first lockdown, with more people able to work remotely; access to town and city centres is for some less of an issue, although good broadband connection remains an important consideration.
The majority of Homesharers are students or professionals aged between 25-59, often working under 30 hours per week; they are either living off student loans, or perhaps hoping to save up for a home of their own one day. Homeshare in this instance provides low cost accommodation and the opportunity to remain living in areas that they may otherwise not be able to stay due to rental costs. With the cost of a room through a Homeshare arrangement starting from just £150 a month Homeshare is a more suitable option than social housing for many.
Equally, Homeshare is incredibly beneficial, and low cost, for the older householder too. It means they can remain living independently in their own homes, and in the local community they know, with a live-in Sharer offering the required low-level support and company that give peace-of-mind; why should reaching a certain age automatically mean a move to a care home or assisted living?
Homeshare improves outcomes beyond the housing issue too. For instance, the pandemic has led to many people, young and old alike, no longer wishing to live alone or be cut off from others, and instead seeking alternative options to avoid the loneliness and isolation that the lockdowns have amplified. By supporting community-based living, Homeshare is an opportunity for different generations to spend time together, enabling young people to exchange practical help with daily tasks around the house for low cost living. As well as preparing some meals, shopping and gardening, support with technology is incredibly important as a means to keep in touch with family and loved ones, particularly at this point in time.
For older people with a spare bedroom, and for people seeking affordable accommodation, the Homeshare model is a win-win solution now and in the future.
Community Interest Company (CIC), Share and Care Homeshare, is the largest and most experienced provider in the UK and offers a bespoke nationwide service. For further information contact 020 3865 3398, email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.shareandcare.co.uk (opens new window) or find us on Twitter @ShareandCareOrg (opens new window)
To access more information and resources on homesharing, visit the dedicated page on the Housing LIN website.