Homeshare is a national initiative that brings people who need support at home and have a spare room together with people who want an affordable place to live, and are happy to lend a hand around the house in return.
The scheme is now being rolled out by Milton Keynes Council so we take a look at the inspiring story of Florence and Alexandra, the housemates with a 68-year age gap, to find out how Homeshare has benefitted both of them…
Florence is a 95-yearold partially sighted RAF veteran of World War Two. She also has a 27-year-old housemate called Alexandra.
When Florence’s husband died she desperately needed company as she was one of nine million adults in the UK who say they are often, or always, lonely.
Florence came across an advert for Homeshare, an initiative that aims to tackle loneliness by matching people looking for companionship with a person in need of somewhere to live.
It’s a win-win arrangement as Homeshare carefully matches people with spare rooms with people who can give 10 hours a week of help around the house. And the arrangement has worked out perfectly for Florence and her housemate Alexandra, who is a masters student 68 years her junior.
Florence said: “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.
“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.
“It’s working beautifully as we get on well, which surprises me a bit because Alex comes from the north and I’m a southerner!”
Alexandra was equally full of praise for the scheme. She said: “It’s been important to me as a way I can come down south and do my studies, otherwise it would have been very difficult.
“I have a new friend and somewhere that’s a really homely environment – somewhere I can feel safe and not isolated.
“We get on like a house on fire too. I don’t think it matters that we’re from a different generation.
“We’ve got similar interests and I enjoy hearing about the things Florence can tell me from her early life and I think she enjoys hearing about what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. My granny is going to be very excited because Florence has got me watching Coronation Street now, which I’ve resisted for many years!”
Florence added that that she looks forward to Alexandra coming home every day. “You cannot believe the difference it makes just hearing somebody in the house,” she said.
“Hearing movement upstairs and knowing that it’s not someone breaking in or something like that.
“The best thing about it is somebody coming in at the end of the day, around 6pm.
“That’s when my family used to come home for dinner and, to hear the key in the lock at around 6pm, is wonderful.”
To register your interest in participating in the Homeshare MK scheme email sharedlivesmk@ milton-keynes.gov.uk or call 01908 258088 and leave a voicemail including your contact details. Homeshare MK will carefully vet, match and oversee each unique Homeshare arrangement.