Homeshare UK: An Intergenerational Case Study
At a time when both the UK's housing and social care are deemed to be in crisis, Homeshare UK offers an alternative ways of doing things. Here they share the wide reaching benefits of bringing together older people with spare rooms with a younger person, who provides an agreed amount of support in exchange for affordable accommodation.
How do you define intergenerational activity?
Bringing people together across generations to break down barriers, forge friendships and try something new that benefits both participants.
The elevator pitch: How do you describe your organisation to someone completely new to your work?
In Homeshare, someone who needs some help to live independently in their own home is matched with someone who has a housing need and can provide a little support. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement as both parties have something they need and something to give.
“Householders” are often older people who own or are tenants in their own home but have developed some support needs or have become isolated or anxious about living alone. “Homesharers” are often younger people, students, or key public service workers who cannot afford housing where they work. The Homesharer provides an agreed level of help and support to the Householder whilst living in their home for a set period of time.
Homeshare UK is the national network for Homeshare and we provide support to our members to deliver safe and effective Homeshare services locally through development of policy, good practice and quality assurance. We promote the model UK wide.
The hurdles: What are some of the main challenges you face around offering your services?
Homeshare is still relatively small and unknown in the UK and while we are seeing big growth in the sector there are still many parts of the UK which don’t have a local Homeshare service so it can be a bit of a postcode lottery. Sharing your home with someone can be a big decision to make and raising awareness of Homeshare, the benefits and its safety and getting people to take the plunge is a big task for Homeshare UK and our members who deliver Homeshare services locally. We can see it taking off in Europe and parts of the USA where thousands of people are homesharing. In the UK there are about 400 Homeshare matches happening right now but there are thousands of people that could benefit from the model.
The rewards: What are some stand-out benefits of intergenerational activity for those you work with?
Homeshare tackles some of the most basic needs across generations. Older people can gain confidence and independence to stay at home for longer and enjoy the place they love. Younger people get safe and affordable accommodation often in homes and locations they would never be able to afford in the private rented sector and families have the peace of mind that their loves ones are safe and enjoying home life. Beyond the basics there are the relationships and friendships and new experiences that come out of bringing people together that would never have met before.
In the wider world there is environmental impact in making better use of existing housing stock. Health and well-being benefits are far reaching such as preventing trips and falls and accidents around the home, ensuing homes are safe as people age which can prevent trips to hospital and supporting earlier discharge from hospital, fewer visits to the GP and reducing isolation and loneliness across the generations by living socially.
It is so rewarding to break down barriers and see how beneficial new friendships, relationships and activities can change lives.
The people: Give one real-world example of a group that have benefited from your intergenerational work in the past 12 months and the changes you have seen for them since taking part.
Homeshare matches change lives for both young and old. We have many testimonials and case studies of the difference it makes. Here is a quote from a Householder in London.
“We are really good friends and she gives me so much company. We sit together, watch TV together and we eat together a lot, although we have different food tastes. I love all her vegetables and pasta and stir fries, she doesn't like mine so much, but that is OK. She is very pleasant to have around in the flat. She is going on holiday next week and I will miss her terribly.
Once you have found a lovely younger person to share your home with, you will find that Homeshare is a marvellous idea. You feel less lonely, and it is very comforting to know you have company in the evening or night time. I would not want to be without a Sharer now.” Homeowner – London (2019)
Top tips: What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in an existing intergenerational project or looking to start their own?
It is so rewarding to break down barriers and see how beneficial new friendships, relationships and activities can change lives. See what is happening locally as it is always good to get a picture of what is currently available and support existing projects and programmes. If you have a completely new and innovative idea then it’s still always good to link in with those delivering local services to find out if your idea can enhance their work and use their expertise and experience. Bringing generations together means working across communities and really getting to know the people you want to work with. You want to be a part of the journey so be a person first and engage on a human level.
How can we find out more about your work and how to support you?
You can contact Deborah Fox or Alice Williams who can help with any enquiries relating to Homeshare in the UK and Homeshare International by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in being part of a Homeshare you can contact our members direct who deliver services locally. See a list on our website or search by location at: https://homeshareuk.org/homeshare-areas-coverage-map/