Sheffield cohousing scheme helping combat loneliness

A Sheffield woman has found a solution to loneliness after it was revealed nearly 700,000 people in Yorkshire and the Humber are living alone.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 1:36 pm
Jane from On The Brink Cohousing in Nether Edge

A new report released by Community Led Homes in partnership with Community First Yorkshire, reveals that of the 700,000 people living alone in the region more than one third -38 per cent - say they feel lonely due to their living situation.

Community Led Homes is launching More than Housing, a campaign to support communities to make supportive, affordable, secure homes, together, and is encouraging people to consider community led housing as a way of combating the challenges of solo living.

But Jane, 61 has found the perfect way to combat loneliness at On The Brink Cohousing in Nether Edge – a new intentional cohousing community where residents have their own individual living space and communal space for the sharing of cooking, eating, gardening, meeting, relaxing and having fun.

She said: Before, my routine would be to go and sit in the pub on a Friday night to say that’s the end of the working week, but it was also the start of me not having another adult to talk to except in shops and things until I went back to work the next week. Now on Fridays, I take a dish into a room and there are people with news, kids running around, a dog - it’s just like having an extended family.”

Community led housing is when local people come together to organise new housing that meets the needs of local people. It ensures that there is open and meaningful participation with the local community and that local people consent to the housing that is being created. The residents and local people can decide how to set up the community of neighbours and what kind of shared spaces and resources to put in place.

The report, Home Aloners; the true cost of living alone in Britain today, reveals the findings of a survey, commissioned by Community Led Homes and carried out by Savanta ComRes, and explores how today’s loneliness epidemic is affected by people’s living situation. It shows that nearly a quarter -23 per cent – of people who live alone in Yorkshire and the Humber say it is not good for their mental health.

Living alone may be a positive situation for many people, with 85 per cent of people in Yorkshire and the Humber who live alone saying they chose their living situation and 81 per cent saying they enjoy it.

Community led housing is a growing approach. For those who want to live solo it means they can live in homes on their own but with the support of their neighbours as part of a structured community, with opportunities to socialise.

Samantha Jones, from Community Led Homes, said: “Despite being a great way to live for many, solo living can have its pitfalls. That’s the beauty of community housing for people who live on their own. They can have their own private home with the backup and support of a community of neighbours. Lots of people even choose to cook, eat and socialise with their neighbours in shared spaces that have been built into the development. This is more than housing. This is security, community and even friendship.”

Leah Swain, Chief Executive of Community First Yorkshire, said: “Our research has shown that one of the trigger points for loneliness is living alone. Having a strong connection to your community can provide a vital link for people and community led housing has an important role to play.”