Two generations back many of us still had family structures we counted on, people we looked out for, out of duty and habit. Older folks were part of everyday life often ruling the roost, deferred to and respected even if we didn’t agree with their point of view. Then, a cultural trend arose among the young of “moving out”, “moving away” and “making our own lives”.
What did we gain? What did we lose?
Our own place / sustainable housing
Anonymity / social engagement
Convenience foods / homemade meals
One homesharing model, intergenerational house-mates, is addressing all three of these gains and losses.
Homesharing matches are based on compatible interests and needs. They are stimulating, enjoyable and health-giving for all parties. Usually there are just two individuals sharing but just as families come in all shapes and sizes so do housemates.
Let’s begin with an article from the United Kingdom:
By Becky Morton BBC political reporter 23 December 2017
Florence is 95. She’s partially sighted, an RAF veteran, and used to be a keen tennis player.
She also has a 27-year-old housemate called Alexandra.
When Florence’s husband died she said she “desperately needed company”. She was one of nine million adults in the UK who say they are often, or always, lonely.
By chance, Florence came across homesharing in the letters page of a newspaper. The initiative aims to tackle loneliness by matching older people looking for companionship with a younger person in need of somewhere to live.
It’s a win-win arrangement – in return for keeping an older person company and helping around the house, a homesharer gets low-cost accommodation.
In 2016, Homeshare UK, a network of schemes in the UK, reported more than 200 active matches in cities including Leeds, Bristol and London.
Florence had her first homesharer ten years ago. Since then she’s had a number of different housemates.
Her most recent is Alexandra, a masters student from Newcastle. We spoke to them about how it has worked out.
What made you want to do a homeshare?
Florence: I wanted to do it because I was very lonely. When you retire from work you stop using your brain, you’re not as active as you used to be and you’re bored to tears. You are used to leading an active life and suddenly there is nothing.
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’.
Alexandra: On a completely practical level it’s been important to me as a way I can come to London and do my studies otherwise it would have been very difficult. The other things that I’ve got out of it that I wasn’t necessarily expecting is I have a new friend and somewhere that’s a really homely environment. Somewhere I can feel safe and not isolated in a really big city.