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People want to live together for mutual support – let’s help them

This week the government announced a “new deal” style package to improve the ailing post-Covid economy.  But research from Shared Lives Plus shows that over half of people feel the government must do more to rebuild the physical and mental health of people impacted by the pandemic. The UK’s leading charity for shared living is calling for ambitious investment in shared living, a little-known but widely-available approach to tackling loneliness and supporting people safely.

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The research, undertaken with Survation, suggests that, despite recent spending pledges, over 50% of people do not think the government is doing enough to address loneliness for those who are self-isolating. While the Covid-19 pandemic is deadly, so is loneliness – and the lockdown and self-isolation measures in place have increased that risk for many people.

Now that so many have experienced the largest scale and most intense period of mass isolation in recent history, people are beginning to consider different ways of living. The survey showed that 37% of people who live alone would consider sharing their homes with someone of similar interests, once Coronavirus has been fully addressed. Over a third of people who live alone could be open to exploring shared living; either Shared Lives, where an approved Shared Lives carer opens up their home to someone with support needs, or Homeshare, where an older person opens their home for companionship and some practical help and gives a younger person a good start in life.

But the study also showed that 65% of people would prefer to share their homes with someone of similar interests to them. People who are looking for more connections do not want to be placed with just anyone.  Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting people, Shared Lives and Homeshare are built on the foundation of careful, conscious matching processes, where people come to live together because they’ve chosen one another and share interests.

Despite the quality of these models of shared living – Shared Lives is officially and consistently rated as the highest quality of social care there is – and the fact that both models are available in nearly every part of the UK – awareness of them is low.  Three quarters of those asked hadn’t heard of Shared Lives, and 65% hadn’t heard of Homeshare.

Shared Lives Plus CEO Alex Fox, said:

“Shared Lives and Homeshare are two models of shared living which are fighting the twin dangers of infection and loneliness. The instances of infection and death from Covid-19 in shared living are much lower than in other social care settings, because both models allow people to support each other within small households without relying on staff teams. Home is the safest place to be.

“ Our research clearly shows there is a real appetite for people living together in mutually beneficial arrangements with someone they get on with. The appetite is there, and the solution – but large-scale awareness of the solution is not. We call on central and local government to recognise the resilience and life-changing potential of shared living, to understand the need of citizens to live connected to others and their community, and to invest ambitiously in growing all forms of shared living.”

If you are interested in living with someone, and giving or receiving some extra support to transform your life and theirs – find out more and start your journey to a shared life today.