Homeshare project pairs students with disabled people

The project aims to team up students and professionals with people with learning disabilities. File picture: Gary Kemble
The project aims to team up students and professionals with people with learning disabilities. File picture: Gary Kemble
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PEOPLE with learning disabilities are to get help to live independently as part of a flatshare with a difference.

Students, young professionals priced out of the rental market or those who simply want to help others will be offered cut-price digs in exchange for companionship and help for vulnerable adults who want to live in their own homes.

The innovative Homeshare project is being piloted in the Capital, which aims to match people with learning disabilities who have a spare room with a companion. The homesharer would pledge to spend around ten hours with their host and to help with household chores in return for their accommodation.

Gillian Allan, Edinburgh Development Group’s development worker, said: “This is the first time an initiative such as this will be available in Edinburgh, so we are excited to be pioneering such an amazing project. Not only is it a great way for people to help each other out and become friends, but also a chance to make a difference to someone else’s life.”

The project, which is one of six taking place across the UK, has been given a £122,000 funding boost from the Big Lottery Fund to get it started.

Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland chair, said: “Homeshare potentially offers a new and sustainable model for those wanting to live more independently and take control of their lives through supporting one another.

“It provides new opportunities for those seeking somewhere affordable to live while people with learning disabilities can gain companionship and security.”

The project was hailed by children’s charities as a promising tool to tackle loneliness and isolation among vulnerable adults. Alex Orr, policy adviser to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, which represents a number of charities, said: “This is an excellent concept and is a win-win situation for both parties concerned.

“Those with learning disabilities deserve the same opportunities as other people in society and lead a fulfilling life.

“However, one of the barriers to achieving this ambitious vision are difficulties in building and maintaining social networks. This means that people face a lack of opportunities others take for granted.

“We know that one of the key challenges that those with learning disabilities face is loneliness, and this pilot scheme could make a real difference to someone’s life, both for the individual with learning disabilities as well as the person moving into their home.”