Problem solving is a feel good activity. So imagine how it feels to solve two problems at the same time, presumably doubly so. No imagining required for the good folk of HomeShare, a charity which looks to match older people who seek company at home with younger people who need somewhere affordable to live. At the last count, HomeShare has helped 300 people do just that. While the age gap between flat or house mates can be wider than the norm, it does not mean that those who live together can’t get on or don’t have much in common. Take 95 year old Florence Smith, a World War Two RAF veteran, and 27 year old Alexandra Knox from Newcastle, a masters student at the Institute of Arts in London. Ms Knox said: ‘I was really nervous when we first met but we just hit it off. Flo is funny and really lovely to talk to and we’ve become good friends…it’s no different to living with friends as uni students. And she seems to go out more than I do! If we have to worry about either of us having a late night, it’s probably her.’ And the feeling is mutual: ‘Some people might feel a bit concerned about having a younger person living in their home, but Alexandra is lovely. I would call her a close friend. We talk about everything, just as I would with my other friends. It’s a bit strange to think I was already 67 years old when my housemate was born, but don’t think about it that much’, added Flo. ‘Sharing your home is a marvellous idea. Loneliness is horrible. You can get bored to tears being by yourself. Having someone else in the home makes a big difference. You don’t have to worry about falling over or hurting yourself. And more importantly it’s lovely to have somebody to talk to during the day. Even if we just see each other in the mornings for 15 minutes at breakfast, it’s some conversation during the day.’ And then there are the financial benefits, as Ms Knox explains: ‘Rent in London is also really high, but living with Flo makes being here more affordable.’ She has a point. According to Hometrack rental costs are around £1,609 a month. Compare that to the £199 per month Alexandra pays Flo. That’s enough to Knox one’s socks off.
January 28, 2018