As we come to the end of ‘Lodgers for Codgers’, the Channel 4 documentary based loosely on the Homeshare model of intergenerational shared living, we are reflecting on some of the key issues and how Homeshare can be the answer in the real world beyond the TV experiment. This is a guest blog by Homeshare Sector Development Officer Alice Williams.
Real Homeshare relies on careful matching
The Channel 4 show uses a speed dating café to match older and younger people who, following their short introduction, agree to move in together for five days in exchange for some rent and help around the house. ‘Real’ Homeshare in the UK is a bit different. It is not a commercial arrangement with a ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’ relationship. All Homeshare matches are arranged and facilitated by a Homeshare organisation, which carefully vets and matches each party for safety and compatibility and shared interests. They are given time to get to know each other before moving in and the match is monitored and supported on an ongoing basis, to ensure continued safety and security and would not put people with conflicting views or lifestyles in the same house, although I guess this would make for slightly less exciting TV!
Real Homesharers Margaret and Holly in Leeds
The young people in the series were all facing real issues with housing. Some were still living at home, unable to get that taste of freedom and independence like Liam, Jake and Sophie. They were facing homelessness like Ciaro, or had never experienced what a safe and secure home was like Marvell and Chè. Lucy was even considering living in a van to afford her chosen city. Social media, lifestyle publications and shops sell the dream of your perfect home and the private rented sector knows this. The cost of having that all-important place to call home is rising beyond many people’s means.
Real Homesharers, Sheila, Emma and Emily in Cheltenham
Whether you’re in your 20s or 80s, everyone needs a place to call home. Now more than ever home is a sanctuary. When home isn’t right, others parts of life start to unravel, whether it’s mental health, employment or relationships. Being secure and happy at home is the lynchpin for your general well-being. The motivation for real Homeshare has to be about more than only saving money: for it to work, you must really want to share your time and home life with someone else. In Homeshare people are matched for compatible interests and outlooks on life. You are a lifeline for each other. It’s more than a room to rent; it’s a friendship and genuine desire to help each other.
There are around 1000 people Homesharing across the UK. Many Homeshare organisations are start-ups and making matches can be hard due to lack of suitable and available participants. There are estimated to be 3.8 million older people living alone. If only 1% of these considered Homeshare, we could create a vibrant and thriving alterative to a housing market which fails so many.