Opening new doors to independent living for older and younger people

Six pilot projects offering a positive solution for younger people seeking affordable accommodation and older people wanting to live independently in their own homes received more than £1.3 million from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The projects around the UK were funded in early 2016 as part of Homeshare, the UK’s first national home-sharing initiative developed by the National Lottery Community Fund and Lloyds Bank Foundation as a new and sustainable model for people with particular housing needs in local communities. It matches younger people looking for reasonably-priced accommodation with older people who are lonely or isolated and can offer a spare room.

Felicity and Bongi

The younger person typically pledges around 10 hours of companionship and light domestic help to their host in return for accommodation, bringing practical, financial and emotional benefits for those who take part. Projects have been developed with local partners to best suit the needs and requirements of their communities, and will support groups including students, young care leavers, low earners, people with disabilities and weekday workforces. The pilots will test different models to help make services viable in the long-term.

All projects, including two individual ongoing schemes funded in 2015, are working with advisory partners Age UK, Shared Lives Plus, Foyer Federation and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

This included Novus in London where Felicity and Bongi were successfully matched.

Felicity said: “It works really well for me as it means that I have the security of someone in the house overnight. It also gives my family peace of mind as I have someone to help me with the tasks I find it difficult to do and a bit of company in the evenings. Bongi helps me with the cooking and some light housework and as great and younger company”.

But what does Bongi, the homesharer, think of the scheme: “If it is the right match, I think the scheme works really well,” she said. “It’s about finding the right balance and getting to know the other person, it takes over a month to bond and decide to continue with the programme, it is important to get into it with your eyes and heart open. It is great programme, but it is a commitment at the same time.”

Felicity says that her family are very supportive of the programme describing Homeshare as “the ideal solution that helps people to remain in the home they love and at the same time get companionship and the live-in support they need.”

Talking about the success of the work and it’s potential to work in Wales, Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus said: “Homeshare has grown significantly over the past 12 months but still remains small scale and relatively unknown across the UK. Homeshare is rapidly becoming a real option to help areas solve housing challenges, support older people to stay in their own homes for longer, reduce isolation and build stronger communities by bringing together older and younger people in a positive way.

“We know that there is significant appetite to expand Homeshare in Wales. Shared Lives Plus (the Homeshare UK and Shared Lives network), is committed to supporting further expansion and development of the Homeshare model across Wales and in Welsh rural communities.”

This blog is helping to promote the National Lottery Community Fund’s Rural Programme. Community groups can apply to share £13.5 million to make great thing happen in rural Wales.




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