Social enterprise houseshare scheme aims to combat loneliness
In a world where we are more connected because of technology and social media, loneliness is more prevalent than ever.
In Great Britain 2.6 million adults said that they felt lonely ‘often or always’ according to a report from the Office For National Statistics.
Two Generations CIC is a social enterprise that aims to relieve people from loneliness.
It is a homeshare model that pairs an older person who has a spare room with a younger person who can offer companionship and physical help with certain household tasks such as laundry and food shopping.
Through living together they develop a friendship. It gives the older person someone at home while mitigating the expensive rental market for younger people.
Natasha Langleben is a social worker and co-founder of Two Generations, she said: “We set up Two Generations because it was becoming clear that loneliness was having such a huge effect on older people’s emotional well-being and younger people were being completely priced out of the rental market - we saw an opportunity to help establish meaningful intergenerational friendships across the country and we’ve been delighted to see the positive impact.”
The social enterprise works nationally and is expanding in Sussex.
It already has a few clients in across both counties.
The family of an East Sussex householder said they contacted Two Generations for their elderly mother who needed an overnight presence as well as companionship in order to allow her to stay in her own home independently.
They said: “We found both in Two Generations who have been nothing short of brilliant in terms of providing us with a wonderful homesharer.
“The whole process felt very safe with all the checks that were done and also Lisa was and is our main contact point at Two Generations and has been fantastic all around from careful research to answering all of our questions and making sure we had the best possible fit.
“We have found it to be a great experience and having got to know her during the process, the homesharer already feels like a new member of the family.”
The householder and housesharer pay Two Generations for the service.
The price paid varies depending on the time commitment of the housesharer.
The basic being roughly five hours a month where the homeholder pays £49 a month and the housesharer paying £299, up to comprehensive costing the homeholder £149 and the housesharer £199. This cost includes bills and can change slightly to accommodate that.
Collectively, homesharers have provided around 178,000 hours of support to their householders during 2020.
The Brighton householder said after their housesharer moved in: “This has been such a success, far more than I ever expected.
“I felt incredibly supported by Two Generations throughout the whole process, they were incredibly careful to make sure the right match was found and people fitted together.
“The process was very organised and checks were happening all the time, I felt very safe the entire time.
“The amazing things is that when I specified the type of person I wanted you couldn’t have gotten the match any better. The homesharer is wonderful and she is like another member of the family.
“Having the homesharer has been amazing, I’m sleeping so much better because someone is here tonight, it’s a great sense of security.
“This has allowed me to stay in my home which has made me so incredibly happy.
“I would absolutely recommend Two Generations and have already been telling my friends all about it so they can benefit too.”
The Campaign To End Loneliness found that the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49 per cent increase in ten years.
Homeshare UK, the UK network, found that the key groups of householders using the service are older single people and older couples between the ages of 70 and 90.
Its network also reported other householder groups include people with life limiting illness, people with disabilities and people with a learning disability.
When it comes to homesharers the majority are between the ages of 25 and 49, 38 per cent are young professionals, 34 per cent are postgraduate or mature students and 21 per cent are public sector works and older professionals in need of affordable accommodation.
There has also been an increase in the number of semi-retired and younger-older people becoming homesharers.
The homesharers do not carry out personal care but provide the person they are living with company.
Sam Brandman co-founded Two Generations after his grandmother died, he wanted to ensure the elderly did not spend their later years alone.
Pairs are matched in much the same way as a dating app matches people, it is more than putting someone in a spare room they also look at each person’s likes and interests.
A recent match for the network was 93-year-old Dennis and Syrian refugee Jorge, who had common interests in politics and food.
Sam said: “It was the perfect fit.”
On the match Jorge said: “It’s nice to have someone to care about; going back to a home rather than being alone is wonderful. Dennis is really sweet,” he said.
“It’s been going really well and I hope it continues this way.”
Dennis said: “He’s been doing most of the cooking, and it’s been lovely having a bit of company in the evening.”
Two Generations has extensive safeguarding procedures including a five stage vetting process, which includes police checks and an enhanced DBS, references, detailed and thorough application form for homesharers, a video interview with homesharers to check suitability and householders meet homesharers.
They also have a month trial to see how it goes and either party can decide to pull out if they wish.
Sam said: “We are often contacted by children of older people who live far away and who are unable to visit often, which shows that even those with family can experience isolation.
“It offers companionship, the ability to share experiences and end loneliness. It allows people who might not ordinarily connect to connect.”