House sharing, isn’t that something you do only when you’re younger or in your student days? Don’t you get to a certain time in your life when you don’t want arguments about whose turn it is to do the washing up, take the bins out or who drank the last of the milk?
I think most of us would agree with that.
But what if there was a different kind of house sharing? What if it was home sharing where someone, usually an older person, who needs a small amount of help to live independently in their own home is matched with someone, usually a younger person, who has a housing need and can provide support and companionship?
Cath Ormerod, Leeds City Council’s Homeshare Co-ordinator tells us all about the Homeshare pilot that is taking place in Leeds.
I hear Homeshare has come to Leeds, can you explain what a Homeshare is?
Homeshare is really simple. It’s a way of helping older people stay independent at home for longer and helping younger people. The Centre for Ageing Better tells us without question that home is where most people want to be, saying 80% of homeowners aged 65 and over wish to stay where they are.
How does it work?
The scheme matches a younger person looking for an affordable place to live with an older person with a spare room who needs a helping hand at home.
How does the older Homesharer benefit?
The Homesharer receives around 10 hours a week support with daily tasks: those things that can start to get difficult as you get older, like shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening or even just having someone to watch the telly with, a bit of company. Just knowing someone is there to help.
How does the younger Homesharer benefit?
Younger people have been hit hard by a combination of rising tuition fees and an unprecedented rise in housing costs. At the same time career prospects are hampered by a need to reconcile high rental rates with low income internships, apprenticeships or low graduate starting salaries.
Homeshare offers a secure and comfortable home and can also be is an ideal solution for weekday commuters, or those looking for a home away from home in a new city.
There are also times in life when a period of affordable settled accommodation can help you get back on your feet, such as after a relationship breakdown.
Why would someone want to join Homeshare?
I think the real answer is what people can get from Homeshare: a lovely balanced relationship where they put a lot in and get a lot back. It’s about the people involved and what home means to them.
This video from a Homeshare in Vermont says this much better than I can.
Are there any costs?
The fees just cover the cost of running the scheme and are set at a low level.
The cost of the type of support Homeshare offers costs around £15 an hour if purchased privately and the cost of a room in a shared house averaging £350 so it stacks up pretty well. And, obviously the Homesharers have to share the household bills.
But is it safe?
We have put a lot of thought into managing any risks. In addition to application checks including DBS, references and credit checks there is a thorough assessment and we offer ongoing support.
Homeshare is part of Shared Lives in Leeds City Council’s Adult Social Care. I work with a team of social workers with a wealth of experience working and personally have ten years experience working as a consulting manager in a safeguarding context.
Homeshare can also offer peace of mind for families who are worried about an elderly relative when they can’t be nearby. That is how Paula, a Homeshare user, sees it.
‘’Most days she is able to do things for herself but said she felt less vulnerable, especially at night with someone else in the house.” Paula also said that “having Alison around has reassured my family and means they don’t have to worry about me so much anymore.”
Sounds good but won’t younger and older people living together rub each other up the wrong way?
It can feel like there is a big gap between the younger and older generations and there has been a lot of media focus on this, particularly around Brexit.
What we believe is that people can have things in common and enjoy each other’s company at any age. We also have a careful matching process which is about finding people who click.
Homeshare builds relationships between the two generations, recognising that the people who take part both have needs and something to give. In Homeshare both participants gain from the arrangement, giving and receiving in equal measure
Thanks Cath. We hope that the pilot is a great success and look forward to hearing about Leeds Homesharers in the future.
If any of this makes you think Homeshare may work for you, someone you know or you would just like to find out more get in touch. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 0113 3785410. You can find out more about the scheme and download application forms here