We start this year with an admission. We are baffled. The reason?
Well, January got off to a flying start in the world of HomeShare, with a delightful BBC Radio 4 interview www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-42438530/homesharing-we-get-on-like-a-house-on-fire.
Now this features a dear lady in her 90s sharing very happily with a younger woman aged 27. The response to the interview has been amazing. In fact, enquiries to the HomeShare UK national site have increased tenfold, such is the level of interest stimulated by the interview.
And here's why we are baffled. Our colleagues, elsewhere, have been inundated with enquiries, but separated from them as we are by that strip of water, as yet we've had not a sausage!!
Is it just that other areas have high student populations (a ready market of energetic younger people happy to reduce their considerable costs with the trade-off of help for accommodation which is made possible by home sharing), or is there some untapped Isle of Wight factor at play?
If anyone thinks they have the answer, we'd love to hear - as would the householders and sharer applicants we have waiting for a match. DC
HomeShare Isle of Wight has a steady flow of people interested in sharing a home - both householders and sharers and in all quarters of the county. So why, are we always looking for more?
As you'd expect, contact with so many enquirers and applicants has yielded lots of learning about why people are considering changing the way they live and what they would hope to gain from, and give to, this novel way of sharing.
No denying, changing the way you decide to live is a challenge and it's not something you enter lightly or without some reservations. Understanding that, much work has gone into finding ways to steer applicants through the obstacles (real and imagined) and get them to a point where a match could be made.
It would be just great for us as HomeShare Co-ordinators, if we had equal numbers of householders and sharers and it was quite simply a case of putting one group neatly together with the other. But, it doesn't work that way. People, their circumstances, wants and needs are all different.
We might, for instance, meet a householder in the West Wight offering a share which would be ideal for a known share seeker currently living in East Wight. The areas are not separated by a million miles, but when it comes to some aspects they might as well be! If East Wight person needs to be close to work or wants to stay around friends and interests in that area, and is reliant on public transport to move between the two sides of the Island, West Wight may be out of the question. But what if being tied to a specific area is more out of habit than practical considerations and it's your thinking that's creating the seemingly insurmountable distance? If that's the case, thinking outside the box and looking at the many reasons why home sharing makes sense, could hold the key to new opportunities.
In our ongoing search, we're inspired by the comments of Kirby Dunn, Director of HomeShare Vermont (quoted in Sharing Housing, A guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates, by Annamarie Pluhar) who says:"we've done the surveys. People say they're happier, sleeping and eating better and feeling safer in their homes with someone around. If I sold you that as a drug, you'd pay thousands." Plentiful reasons why sharing makes sense. And HomeShare Vermont know what they're talking about...their track record extends over 30 years. DC
Friends have just returned from a trip to Scotland with a true story about sheep invading their hotel grounds.
It seems that the woolly interlopers had foiled a cattle grid installed to prevent them straying from nearby grazing. One had somehow worked out that, while crossed in normal fashion the grid would do its job and snag feet, the barrier could be overcome with a rolling type manoeuvre which bowled the clever creature into the hotel grounds. Sheep being sheep, its fellows all followed in the same way.
By now you are most likely wondering what roly poly Scots sheep have to do with HomeShare.
Well, this tartan tale illustrates that assumptions are often wrong and things frequently don't turn out as you might suppose. Trying a different approach can produce unexpected gains. And it’s just the same with HomeShare.
Other than the age brackets (50+ for householders and 18+ for sharers) and the checks we insist on to protect everyone’s best interests, nothing is set in stone. Householders might well be finding tasks a bit of a struggle and need some practical help, but they could equally still be working themselves, living active lives and simply want their sharers' help with chores to free up leisure time on the golf course or catching up with friends. And sharers may be under 30 but are just as likely to be in their 50s too. They might be contract workers, or new recruits serving a probationary period before relocating to the Island, rebuilding their lives after divorce, or students on training placements.
Fact is, HomeShare can be whatever those taking part need it to be.
So, if you are toying with the idea of sharing, but holding back, check it out. Like the inventive Highlanders you might just discover pastures new! DC
When my mother died, she had lived alone for twenty years, in the two and a half bedroom home, that I grew up in. When I was a toddler to teenager the household consisted of my mum, my dad, my great aunt and I. It was the norm; very few people lived alone and I sense that loneliness was less of a problem. My grand mother lived on the top floor of a town house with her two youngest, but grown up, children, with my great aunt and uncle on the first floor and a variety of different family members in the basement (my parents started their married life in that basement). The floors were not self contained – the basement held the bathroom and laundry facilities, the first floor had the kitchen for cooking and the top floor I remember as the place for family parties – it had the piano!
There were a lot of people, but it never seemed over-crowded and cramped. Why? Well, maybe one reason is that we had fewer possessions. Kitchens were small, because there was little to fit in. Living rooms often had an upright piano, a wireless and seating. A bedroom consisted of one bed, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers and maybe one chair or a little bedside table. It lead me to think what would be the minimum amount of “stuff” I could mange to live with, but that is, perhaps, the subject for another time.
HomeShare is bringing that communal way of living right into the 21st century, but not necessarily with family members. Although, there are examples of homeshare agreements being made between parents and their adult children, who return to live at home for any reason. (You don’t want your 30 year old son reverting to his 15 year old behaviour, “mum does my washing and cooking and cleaning,” and a 30 year old son probably doesn’t want his parents reverting to their “where are you going?” behaviour.)
HomeShare, Isle of Wight, now has approved householders and home sharers looking for their perfect home share match. Why not join them? Contact us to find out more and make the first step to being a sharer. LL
Pigeon holes have no place in HomeShare thinking.
As Co-ordinators of the Island scheme, if we were to fall into the trap of popping all householders into the one marked “elderly and struggling to remain independent” and all sharers into another labelled “desperately seeking low-cost housing” we would, at a stroke, limit HomeShare’s potential and rule out countless people in both camps whose lives could be enriched by sharing.
HomeShare is all about shades of grey. Other than the age brackets (50+ for householders and 18+ for sharers) and the thorough screening which both will go through to be accepted for sharing, nothing is set in stone.
The beauty of HomeShare lies in its diversity, flexibility - and utter unpredictability. Everyone who applies brings unique life experiences, expectations, habits, hobbies, outlook, practical considerations and personality to the table. Add all this to the mix and it makes for exciting possibilities, not just a practical set up built on need.
In HomeShare lies the chance to turn back the clock in a positive way – creating homes with sharing at their heart. DC
A thought occurs. Is it just me, or have others noticed how, down the years, hedges and fences have grown higher in the pursuit of privacy/security?
I recall, as a child being able to stand in our garden and look easily across others in the neighbourhood, which were separated only by low hedging, chain link or the like.
As a consequence, interaction was the norm’, neighbours became friends (mostly, but not always), kids played (outdoors!) together and under the watchful eye of known adults, and, importantly, loneliness/isolation was nigh on impossible. Visit the same road now and you’ll find 6-foot impenetrable panels, hedges thick enough and high enough to stop a charging rhino.
In chasing privacy, have we maybe arrived at a point where, in our efforts to keep others out, believing ourselves and our families to be safer, more protected, self-contained even, we’ve in fact walled ourselves in?
Not suggesting for a moment that all was perfect – it wasn’t – or that we should tear down these barriers, but it might benefit us all to reconnect (at least sometimes) with our fellows in ways which were once commonplace. And here’s a thought…perhaps home sharing could show the way forward! DC
Like all things about HomeShare Isle of Wight this is a two-handed venture. We Co-ordinators, Lorraine Lord and Diane Coppell, will be dropping in with random musings, sharing our thoughts about the scheme and responding to some of yours...