A woman in her 80s has a new housemate thanks to a council scheme to encourage people to share their home.

Two people have become Gwynedd Council's first home share match, providing a safe and affordable home in return for companionship and support.

The council’s Rhannu Cartref/Homeshare scheme was launched last year and aims to match people who need a little extra help to live independently at home with others who find it difficult to find or afford their own home. With the Homeshare scheme, everybody wins.

The risk of losing independence due to ill health or frailty is an all-too-common problem in Gwynedd. But a little help around the home could make a huge difference and help people remain independent and safer for longer. On the other hand, an increasing number of people within the county are unable to find a suitable home due to the housing crisis.

The Homeshare scheme helps find suitable matches that enables a person to share their home in exchange for a little practical support around the house, such as shopping, running errands, gardening or even walking the dog. The person moving in gains a safe, affordable place to live.

Audrey and James have been housemates for the past two months and are keen to share their experiences so that others become aware of the immense benefits of sharing a home through the scheme.

Audrey is a widow in her 80s and was finding it increasingly difficult to cope on her own. James has his own landscaping company and had been doing some work for Audrey when he found himself looking for somewhere to live following a change in circumstances. Homeshare seemed to be the obvious answer for both.

James and Audrey doing the washing up
James and Audrey doing the washing up (Gwynedd Council)

Audrey said: “The benefits of Homeshare are great for me and I think the scheme is fantastic. My children – one of whom doesn’t live locally and the other who has full time work – agree that it’s peace of mind, especially that I have someone living with me and can be there in case of an emergency.

“I had plenty of room in the house, so when I heard of the scheme it made sense. James is such good company and helps me around the house. He cooks wonderful meals and helps with my shopping and does some gardening.

“Having James here give me such peace of mind and companionship, especially during these long winter nights.”

The pair have known each other for the past five years and have always got along. Taking the next step to becoming home sharers made sense for them both. James helps out for 10 hours every week and the arrangement is flexible and fits in with his working life.

James said: “It’s really difficult to find somewhere permanent to live without having to move away from my community.

“Homeshare is really working out for me, I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to find such a nice place to live. I look forward to cooking our dinner in the evening and putting the world to rights with Audrey.

“If there are other people out there who are struggling to find somewhere to live, I would definitely recommend that they look into Homeshare.”

Dilwyn Morgan, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing said: “I really welcome Homeshare in Gwynedd. People are facing so many challenges in our communities, especially the elderly and young people. This scheme offers practical and flexible solutions and mutual benefits, helping to tackle loneliness and isolation as well as affordable housing.”

Housesharers don’t pay rent, however they are expected to pay a small administrative fee to Rhannu Cartref Gwynedd Homeshare for ongoing costs. The matching process is carefully planned, and detailed background checks are arranged for both parties to ensure the scheme is safe and effective.

For more details about Rhannu Cartref Gwynedd Homeshare – as a Householder or as a Homesharer – please contact [email protected] / tel 07388 859015 or visit the website www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru/homesharees at the home they share.