Clarion Housing Group, the largest social landlord in the country, has partnered with Homeshare UK and the Fusion21 Foundation to offer its residents the chance to take part in a unique pilot programme.
The programme, called Homeshare, matches older people who can offer a spare room with a younger person who is looking for somewhere affordable to live and able to share their company and offer practical support around the home. Through Homeshare, people learn new skills and older householders are able to remain independent in their own homes for longer, with the housing model bringing communities and generations together to reduce loneliness and social isolation which affects all ages.
In the pilot phase, Clarion is seeking eight pairs of residents – one older and one younger – to live together and share their experiences to inform the future rollout of the programme. The pilot has been co-funded by Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, and the Fusion21 Foundation, which works with partners and communities to give everyone the best chance of a healthy, happy future.
The latest report by Homeshare UK, the membership network for over 20 local Homeshare services, shows that 96% of older people sharing their home (“Householders”) felt ‘less lonely’ and that having a younger Homesharer has ‘helped them a great deal through lockdown’. Across the UK, over 1,000 people took part in Homeshare in 2020, with growing numbers of people in their 50s and 60s looking for affordable, sociable accommodation.
Sylvia, 87, a retired social worker living in London, Homeshares with Olivia, 24, who moved to London from Liverpool. Sylvia reflects, “Neither of us could have predicted that homesharing would turn out this way. But it really has helped us both so much through lockdown. I liked the idea of having someone around the flat; I didn’t need a carer and I’ve always enjoyed the company of younger people. Olivia is fun, caring, interesting and interested. She has taught me to use Zoom and FaceTime so I’m able to keep in touch with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Nothing beats having someone with you.”
Olivia, 24, says: “Before moving in with Sylvia I’d lived with people my own age. Ironically I found it quite a lonely experience. Everyone was so busy – too busy to chat. I really craved that presence of someone else: that uplifting feeling when you come home from a long day at work and there’s somebody to ask how your day was. Someone to exchange words with around the dinner table.”
“There are both old and young people that have absolutely nobody,” adds Olivia. “With loneliness and mental health such hot topics, the greatest help is having someone to talk to. Homesharing is meeting in the middle for both parties: it’s a companion for the younger person as much as the older.”
Michelle Reynolds, Chief Customer Officer at Clarion Housing Group, said:
“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the loneliness and social isolation that affects people of all ages. But it’s also highlighted the challenges affecting some younger people for whom housing is unaffordable and options are limited.
“Our new partnership with Homeshare UK aims to tackle these issues by matching some of our older residents with younger people who will share their home and provide companionship and low-level support. We’re excited to see how our first residents get on and are committed to exploring ways to build this into our range of housing options to help ensure that our residents can live happy and healthy lives in age-friendly communities.”
Jo Hannan, Fusion21 Foundation Manager, said:
“The Fusion21 Foundation embodies the social change we all want to see, championing positive health and wellbeing, financial inclusion, housing and employability for all. We are delighted to co-fund this initiative alongside Clarion, a Fusion21 member, who will be working in partnership with Homeshare UK in order to bring older and younger people together with the aim of tackling social isolation and housing shortages.”
Deborah Fox, Head of Homeshare UK, says:
“Homes have never just been bricks and mortar – it’s our relationships which build thriving communities. We’ve seen the benefits of Homeshare where people share their homes and lives, when they are carefully matched together and supported.
“The demand for Homeshare has increased during the pandemic as more older people want the company of someone they trust, and enjoy sharing their skills and life experiences. It is a unique way of bringing people of all ages together, and we’re delighted to work with Clarion to make Homeshare available to the social housing sector.”
Anyone interested in taking part in the Homeshare pilot should email Clarion directly.