The Jewish team behind a new social enterprise matching elderly and isolated homeowners with young professionals says the Jewish community can help solve the twin problems of rising rents and rising loneliness in one swoop.
Sam Brandman, who presented the idea at Limmud last week, said young professionals who need cheaper accommodation could be the perfect match for elderly Jews who would like a bit of company and help around the house.
Recent Red Cross figures show that nine million older people in the UK say they are lonely, while Brandman said it was well-known that young people in or near London struggle with the combination of high rents and low early-career salaries.
Last year he launched Two Generations, which creates home-share agreements between young professionals priced out of property, such nurses, social workers, medical students or childcare workers, and elderly homeowners glad of the help.
In return for reduced rent, the young home-sharers agree to help with chores such as food shopping and gardening totalling 15 hours per month, and Brandman said the need for such matches was just as prevalent in the Jewish community as it is in wider society.
“This is a real opportunity to make a difference to the lives of both older and younger people,” he said. “We’ve seen very quickly how many householders are interested in the possibility of this companionship and we know there are many other projects that have proven the benefits of inter-generational relationships.”
Two Generations screens both parties, from basic criminal record checks to cultural or religious choices such as kosher dietary requirements, pairing people according to location and lifestyle, and Brandman said successful matches could hopefully mean more old people being able to remain living independently in their own homes for longer.