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Kindness and companionship: Lessons from Homeshare

Policy Officer Becky Viney-Wood asks what Homeshare can teach us about being kind and staying connected during the Coronavirus outbreak

Kindness, respect and care for one another are essential to the success of Homeshare matches

This week is Homeshare Shout week, where we at Shared Lives Plus have the opportunity to celebrate and shout about the fantastic Homeshare organisations and matches we have all across the UK. Needless to say, Homeshare Shout week has been somewhat eclipsed by the coronavirus crisis which has become a matter or national urgency. These are strange times as we are separated from loved ones and filled with uncertainty about how life will unfold. According to psychoanalyst Anouchka Grose, it is ‘kindness, care and fellow feeling’ that are most likely to help us get through. These qualities can be found in abundance in Homeshare matches. So, what can they teach us about being kind and staying connected during this challenging time?

Tackling loneliness

For many of us, feeling isolated from the rest of society during the coronavirus outbreak is a new feeling which gives us a bit of insight into how lonely it can feel to not to be able to socialise with others. Loneliness and isolation are ongoing problems in the UK, which has been named the ‘loneliness capital of Europe.’ Older people in particular experience feelings of loneliness, which research has shown can take a toll on both a person’s physical and mental health.

Tackling the root cause of loneliness is one of the reasons why Homeshare UK matches people who have a spare room with people who are happy to help about the house and have a chat in return for a small contribution. The companionship and informal care which a Homeshare match provides has been proven to reduce loneliness and improve people’s sense of wellbeing.

The success of Homeshare in improving people’s quality of life shows just how important it is to stay connected to friends and family. Whilst technology does not replace the feeling of communicating in person, it can be a great temporary measure. So, call friends and family and use social media to stay in touch. Where possible, offer to help out vulnerable neighbours, friends and family with their shopping.

Practising kindness

In response to coronavirus there have been calls for people to act kindly to one another. Kindness, respect and care for one another are essential to the success of Homeshare matches. Take for example the Sharers, Homesharers, and family members in Oxford who have been ‘incredibly considerate of other’s needs during the outbreak of coronavirus. By keeping in close touch with their matches, Homeshare in Oxford have been reassured that Sharers are looking out for their often more vulnerable Householders.

 

Norman and Jorge

In London, Homesharer Norman and Sharer Jorge have been keeping each other company and supporting one another as they self-isolate. Jorge is originally from Syria and wanted to become a Sharer because he missed living in a family environment. The willingness of Norman to share his home and daily life has allowed Jorge to experience the family environment he missed and means that both Norman and Jorge have a companion whilst they stay safe inside.

The importance of human connectedness

The outbreak of the coronavirus reminds us that human connectedness can spread illness. Yet, Homeshare shows us that human connectedness and kindness are essential to our happiness and well-being. During this challenging time, we can all learn from the kindness, respect and care for others that Homesharers and Sharers demonstrate. Homeshare teaches us that staying connected in whatever ways we can and being kind to one another are fundamental to our social well-being, which is particularly poignant for us all at this moment.