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UK’s First National Homeshare Programme Offers Solutions to Social Issues for Young and Old Alike

Lloyds Bank Foundation and Big Lottery Fund invested £1m each last year

The UK’s first national homesharing initiative was launched with the first pilot schemes being run by Age UK Oxfordshire and Novus Homeshare.

The Homeshare Programme has been developed by Lloyds Bank Foundation and Big Lottery Fund to combat two of society’s most prevalent issues – a lack of affordable housing for young people and the growing number of older people who are lonely or isolated – by matching young people seeking affordable accommodation with older people with a spare room. The younger party typically pledges around 10 hours of companionship and light domestic help (not including personal care) to their host in return for sharing their home. Both parties contribute an affordable monthly fee which covers the costs of the scheme and contributes towards creating a sustainable service.

The concept of homesharing is already in action in some local communities but has remained relatively niche. The new Homeshare Programme has been created to put homesharing on the map as a viable solution to rising housing costs and support issues for older people. The £2m investment from Lloyds Bank Foundation and Big Lottery Fund will support pilot schemes and evaluation of the programme in order to develop cost effective, replicable homesharing models, so that two different age groups can respond to each others’ needs in a safe and supportive way.

The first pilots will be run by Age UK Oxfordshire and Novus Homeshare:

Age UK Oxfordshire received £172,000 under the national Homeshare Programme over three years to develop a Homeshare scheme which will enhance the support it already provides for older people across the county. The organisation will seek to match members of the large student population and the high number of public sector workers in the city with an older population who may have spare rooms available. The charity is developing three basic models of short-term placements, academic year or term, and long-term arrangements, and will focus on determining the optimum length of time and conditions for homesharing relationships to develop and thrive.

Novus Homeshare is the only charity currently operating Homeshare in greater London and currently manages around 20 homesharing relationships. Under the Programme they are receiving £183,200 over three years and will employ a new business development manager with the aim of expanding their offering across London. The funding supports core running costs and marketing, and is intended to help scale up the provision to more than 100 homesharing relationships over five years, whilst becoming fully self-sustainable.

The remainder of the £2m investment in the Programme will fund further pilots and support the development and evaluation of the programme as a whole. Funding for these pilots is available now.

Paul Streets, Chief Executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales said, ‘Too often we separate generations of old and young. Homeshare brings them together in a really positive way so that the older person can retain their independence and the younger person can have somewhere affordable to live. True symbiosis. This important work sets out to prove it can work at scale and sustainably. We’re excited to be working with the Lottery and a range of delivery partners in common cause to prove it can be done in the UK.’

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund said: “Through this partnership we want to bring together people both young and old supporting them to lead more independent lives and to explore the opportunities homesharing can offer. We will also use our specific pilots to test and learn the impact of opening up homesharing to people such as carers, those with disabilities and those with learning difficulties. We want the evidence from these pilots to help others to develop sustainable solutions to high housing costs as well as offering support for independent living.”

Other partners contributing to the Programme include Shared Lives Plus, Age UK, The Foyer Federation and The Social Care Institute for Excellence, each of whom will offer expertise to inform different areas its development and delivery. The national Programme will draw upon the practice of existing local, independent homesharing schemes with the aim of developing better support for participants, safer and more effective matching services, and implementing rigorous evaluations to refine the system. It will also work to create best practice resources to improve existing small and locally run homesharing schemes as well as informing new schemes.

To find out more about the Homeshare Programme click here.

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