A £1.2m major new project, run by Homeshare UK, is offering hundreds of older and younger people the opportunity to live together, tackling the housing crisis, reducing loneliness and increasing social connection after months of isolation during the pandemic.

We are delighted to launch two Homeshare services in Liverpool and Newcastle, and a new social franchise for Homeshare in small towns and rural areas, thanks to funding from an anonymous donor over the next five years.

Our Homeshare UK network members run services which safely match older and younger people together to offer company and affordable housing. They have supported over 5,000 people in the past five years.

The funding is a significant boost to the growth of Homeshare in the North of England and across the UK, so that greater numbers of older and younger people can safely share their homes and lives. Currently over 75% of matches are within the M25 London boundary.

Our latest report shows an increase in older people and their relatives enquiring about Homeshare to alleviate worries about living alone in lockdown. According to research by Age Scotland, two thirds of older people living alone say the pandemic has made them lonelier. However, it’s not just older people who experience loneliness, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 35% of people aged 18-25 feel lonely, often or most of the time.

In rural areas, younger people are being priced out of villages and towns, with a first time mortgage on average needing a £57,000 deposit  and average cost of renting £800 per month, it takes longer for younger people to save enough to buy their own home.

In Homeshare the older person receives companionship and typically around 10 hours per week of practical help with tasks such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, or gardening – but no personal care. Their Homeshare match gets somewhere affordable to stay, and both parties benefit from the companionship of having a friendly face at home.

Both people pay a low fee to the Homeshare service to ensure safe matching and support throughout the time they live together. They are matched together based on similar hobbies or interests to encourage genuine friendships, and can share skills such as learning to use the internet or video calls, cooking, knitting, gardening – or a conversation at the end of the day.

Deborah Fox, National Development Manager for Homeshare UK, says, “We are delighted to receive this significant investment to enable older people to stay an active part of their community and live in their homes for longer and enable more young people to live sociably and affordably. Homeshare organisations carefully match people with similar interests and skills, bringing generations together and tackling serious social and housing issues.

Fox adds: “The pandemic has isolated many people, but there is so much we can learn and enjoy by being together. Loneliness doesn’t discriminate by age; it’s experienced by many people young and old for a whole range of reasons. We’re delighted to offer Homeshare to hundreds more people across the UK because we’ve seen the incredible difference Homeshare makes, and we can’t wait to get started.”

We are already developing Homeshare in Wales, Scotland and working with community organisations in Norfolk –  to 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.

There will be seven new job roles created in the first year added to our recent recruitment to two additional roles in the Homeshare UK team available.

For more information, please contact Deborah Fox, Homeshare UK National Manager, deborah@sharedlivesplus.org.uk