Deborah Fox – Head of Homeshare UK

As I put the finishing touches to the Homeshare UK annual report each January I often sit back and reflect on the past twelve months and it’s official, 2021 was truly an extraordinary year for HSUK!

The network yet again battled with Covid restrictions, but each organisation has developed new and innovative ways of recruiting, vetting, and matching Homeshare participants which has supported a small annual growth across the sector. Over the past 12 months, 1126 people across the UK have benefited from Homeshare. A real testament to the resilience of the Homeshare model and the people working in and those supporting the 21 Homeshare programmes that make up our network.

We heard some truly inspiring stories at the Annual Shared Living Conference in November when Norman and George, a Homeshare match supported by Two Generations, and Emma Parish from Homeshare Gloucester, won Shared Living Champions awards for making an outstanding contribution to the promotion of Shared Living.

We pulled out all the stops in the summer and secured a huge investment for Homeshare UK from an anonymous benefactor. We hit the ground running with the project back in October and have just finished recruiting and inducting seven new members of staff. There are now 12 members of staff within Shared Lives Plus with a dedicated Homeshare remit.

The five-year expansion project will see the development of new models of Homeshare. For small towns and rural areas, we are developing a Franchise model supporting micro-enterprises which will provide local jobs and locality-based opportunities to access Homeshare. At the same time, we will incubate and deliver an ambitious in-house programme that will operate at scale in two large urban areas across the north of England.

Our core Homeshare work has gone from strength over the past 12 months. We have dedicated Development Officers making huge head roads in Scotland and Wales, East Anglia and London, and a central Development Officer supporting our network members to connect and providing them with the resources and information they need to run effective and safe Homeshare programmes. We formalised our relationship with Clarion Housing in 2021 and have a funded Project Officer on the HSUK team specifically looking at the practicalities and barriers of delivering Homeshare to social housing tenants.

We’ve come a long way in the past seven years. The new HSUK Team is ready to go and looking forward to the challenges the next seven years bring.

Deborah Fox, Head of Homeshare UK | 07889 002526