Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 29 July

As Theresa May settles into Number 10 Downing Street, she faces a to-do list a mile long.

You would rightly expect Brexit and the threat of ISIS to be at the top of the new Prime Minister’s agenda, but there are other major problems affecting people of all ages that are just as urgent.

At one end of the spectrum, amid a housing shortage, it has never been harder for young people to find an affordable place to live. At the other, we have an aging population and a growing funding crisis in adult care.

With this in mind, I was fascinated earlier this month to learn more about a radical new solution which could solve both of these problems at the same time.

The social enterprise PossAbilities is looking for Rochdale residents to sign up for its new Homeshare scheme. The initiative is open to anyone with care needs who has a spare room which they can rent out at a reduced cost to a younger housemate in exchange for ten hours of social support a week.

Homesharers are not professional or medically trained carers, instead they assist with everyday tasks like shopping, cleaning and gardening which can be a struggle for older people. But with loneliness in old age becoming a serious social problem, perhaps the most vital job of all is to provide companionship.

As funding for public services and community facilities is cut it has never been more important to ensure that the older generation has someone they can talk to and engage with.

As an intergenerational project which benefits everyone, it also gives young people the opportunity to spend time with someone who has a lifetime of experiences and, ideas and advice to share.

This is a simple, low cost idea which greatly improves the quality of life for many people and cuts the cost of support services by 80%. It is exactly the kind of innovative thinking that we need more of in Westminster and I’d urge everyone who is interested to find out more by visiting possabilities.org.uk.

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