Social enterprise calls for older people and their relatives to help increase social connections and companionship during the winter months
31 October 2022
Homeshare services across the UK are raising awareness this week of how they can support their local community by safely matching older people living alone with those seeking affordable accommodation.
- The news comes as the true scale of loneliness for all ages in the UK is becoming understood.
- 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely.
- Many people in mid and later life are also finding themselves without affordable housing options due to the increasing cost of living.
Homeshare, works by matching people together for mutual support; a person who has a spare room and is looking for company and a bit of practical support, shares their home with someone looking for affordable accommodation. Both people benefit from the companionship and having a friendly face at home. The householder typically receives 10 hours per week of practical support provided by the homesharer such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening or even enjoying social activities together, but no personal care is involved.
Younger people are being priced out of the villages, towns, and cities they want to live in, for work or study. Latest figures again show that the average age at which people can leave home even to rent is rising along with the proportion of income spent on housing.
Across the UK, local Homeshare providers offer more people the opportunity to live sociably and affordably whatever their age, with the right support structures in place to make it safe and enjoyable. They are supported by Homeshare UK – the UK network for local Homeshare providers.
This week is Homeshare Aware week, where organisations across the UK are calling on older people and their relatives to get in touch and not face another quiet winter if they’d prefer some company at home.
As the darker nights draw in, more people feel safe and secure having the reassurance of an overnight presence and someone to share a meal with. Catherine Ambrose, Homeshare UK Service Manager from Homeshare UK said, “Whilst practical support in the home is beneficial for older people in our area, we find that the majority of our Homeshare matches say that having companionship and a safe place to live is the top benefit for them. Just hearing the key in the lock as the night draws in, as someone comes in from work, is reassuring.
“Family and friends of an older relative feel much more at ease knowing their loved one has someone in the home with them, who has their best interests at heart. Younger people also benefit from the companionship and learn new skills from someone of a different generation.”
Homeshare matches are facilitated, supported and closely monitored by their local Homeshare provider. As members of Homeshare UK, they draw on established national good practice guidance and a quality assurance framework from Homeshare UK to ensure safety and quality, including face-to-face and ongoing support.
A daughter of a householder with Homeshare Living said, “Homesharing has made such a difference to my mum’s life. She is much happier as she is not alone in the evenings, and she has someone else to chat to, share meals with and care about. It has also given me immense peace of mind that someone is there in case anything happens. Mum is well in to her 90’s now and I feel sure that things would have been very different, and she would probably not have been able to stay in her home these last few years if she hadn’t had a sharer.”
Deborah Fox, Head of Homeshare UK, who are organising the campaign says, “We know that winter is a time when we naturally see even fewer people during the shorter days, more than a million older people say they go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour, or family member. With the cost of living constantly on the rise, we’re experiencing more unsettling times, however having someone at home to provide companionship, reassurance and support has a positive impact on the well-being of those in Homeshare arrangements.
“This year during Homeshare Aware Week we’re asking older people and their relatives to get in touch with one of the 20 Homeshare organisations across the UK, who offer wonderful opportunities for older and younger people to connect and help each other out – whether it’s practical, offering a spare room, or companionship. We all need real life company more than ever in our society today.
“It’s a safe and enjoyable way to relieve the pressure of living alone and bring peace of mind to everyone involved.”
To find out more about Homeshare and enquire with your local provider please visit https://homeshareuk.org/ If you are interested in setting up a Homeshare UK social franchise visit https://homeshareuk.org/franchise-opportunities/
About Homeshare UK
Homeshare UK is part of Shared Lives Plus, the membership charity for a kinder, stronger society built on sharing our lives and our homes. We build communities where everyone lives a full life, regardless of the support they need.
Homeshare UK is a vibrant network of likeminded individuals who are passionate about delivering Homeshare in a safe and effective way. We also help anyone who wants to start a Homeshare service with bespoke advice, training and consultancy. We are members of Homeshare International, and proactively work with Homeshare providers across the world.
In 2021 Homeshare UK secured a 1.2 million pound grant to support the scale up of Homeshare across the UK. This money will be used to incubate two large scale programmes across the north of England and a franchise model that will be suitable for delivery in smaller towns and rural locations.
Find out more at www.homeshareuk.org