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Homeshare: the scheme helping fight loneliness in old age

By Nina Steele 

HomeshareThe homeshare scheme seems like the perfect arrangement for both young and old. On the one hand, the old person taking part gets to no longer be alone by renting out their spare room to a younger person, and on the other hand, the younger person gets a far cheaper accommodation than they would otherwise pay for. With an estimated 9 million adults in the UK complaining of being lonely, and with many young people struggling to find cheap accommodation, particularly in big cities, this scheme and many others like it, could become the new normal.

Loneliness can strike anyone, regardless of personal circumstance. Florence, one of the people featured in a recent BBC documentary on homesharing, is a 95 year old woman who said “she desperately needed company” after her husband passed away. Also, like many old people who complain of loneliness, she has children. Of her personal circumstance, Florence said: “My husband had died. My children had married and gone away. In a way it was quite frightening because you don’t know if you’re going to fall, is something going to happen to you? Suddenly you’re a bit worried about even walking up to the local shops. So it’s very important to have somebody to talk to instead of sitting here looking at four walls and thinking, what am I going to do now”.

In many ways, the homeshare scheme is not dissimilar to the kind of arrangements that have been around, for a very long time, in some parts of the developing world, where old people with resources have poorer relatives coming to live with them. Just as with the homeshare scheme, in exchange for keeping the old person company and helping with chores around the home, the poorer relative gets a place to live. The only difference is that in the developing world, the poorer relative generally does not contribute financially, because they simply cannot afford to.

Of the impact the scheme has had on her life, Florence said: “You cannot believe the difference that it makes just hearing somebody in the house. Hearing movement upstairs and knowing that it’s not someone breaking in or something like that”. She goes on to say: “The best thing about it is somebody coming in at night, round about six o’clock. That’s when my family used to come home for their dinner and to me now, to hear the key in the lock, round about six o’clock, is wonderful”.

For more information on the homeshare scheme, visit the Homeshare UK website.

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