Company Two Generations matches pair together in Emsworth home for companionship and support
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Retired schoolteacher Gretta Pescod, 90, wants to continue living at the house in Emsworth she has called home in for the past five decades.
However, after taking a fall a few months ago, Gretta began to worry about keeping her house and the independence it gives her.
Thanks to the support of organisation Two Generations, Gretta has seen 66-year-old Rick Assad move in.
They have been part of the company’s home-sharing programme for just over two months and say it has been ‘wonderful’ .
They are encouraging others to find out if sharing a home could be right for them.
Two Generations is a company that matches people living alone – often older or those who are disabled – with younger people who can provide an overnight presence, companionship, and help with household chores.
In exchange, the younger person benefits from affordable accommodation for less than £300 per month.
Born in Kent, Gretta has spent more than 50 years of her life in Emsworth.
She said: ‘I wanted to stay in my own home, it just wasn’t me.
‘I wanted to maintain my independence.’
So instead, her daughter did some research and found out about sharing a home when she discovered the work of Two Generations.
Gretta said: ‘Now, I feel safe and secure - I go out to tea and coffee and lunch.’
Rick, who does household chores and helps Gretta when needed, benefits from the arrangement as he pays a small amount of rent in exchange for his work around the home.
Lisa Goldsobel, a co-ordinator at Two Generations, worked with Gretta to find her perfect match.
She said: ‘Rick came to us as a sharer as he was looking for affordable accommodation and liked the idea of being able to support someone at the same time.
‘We introduced Gretta and Rick initially on a zoom call and shortly after they met face to face.
‘Gretta was also keen for Rick to meet a few of her friends and her daughter before she made the final decision to move forward with the homeshare.’
South African-born Rick has lived in the UK for 30 years, renting a room in Chichester as well as living in Clanfield.
As a recent computing retiree, Rick has time available to offer help in the house.
He said: ‘To pay ridiculous amounts of rent is crazy.
‘I saw this advert of Gretta’s through Two Generations so I applied, I was screened and checked.
‘Compared to rented accommodation, it’s like living in my own home - Gretta has her own things that she does, she has her prayer group.
‘I’ve got the run of the home - the use of two rooms upstairs and free run of the kitchen. The rest of the accommodation we’re sharing.
‘There are massive savings in comparison with renting - I’m paying less than £300 a month in rent.’
Sam Brandman, chief executive of Two Generations, said that rent costs are rising at a rate that is unaffordable for many people.
He said: ‘Property prices have increased at a rate that exceeds inflation, and that is for rent and buying.
‘Being able to offer an option where people are able to live in areas that they wouldn’t be able to live in, is a really nice thing to do, to help those people.
‘There’s all sorts of potential scenarios we come across, and homesharing offers a great option.
‘I think it’s the reason why I set up the company in the first place. The stuff we’re doing is just transforming people’s lives, being able to help people and provide a sustainable solution.
‘It’s not care, it’s a social enterprise.’
While research shows that the number of over 65s living alone in the UK is on the increase, medical professionals warn that loneliness is one of the largest health concerns the country faces.
One study shows that living alone and having poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
This is one of the reasons why Two Generations was established, and why the team are ‘delighted’ to hear that Gretta and Rick sharing a home is going so well.
Lisa added: ‘Since they have been together it has been a huge success - Gretta has said she has a new lease of life.
‘Rick is very happy with the arrangement and has been fully welcomed into the family.
‘We were delighted when Gretta told us this had made a huge difference in her life.
‘Gretta and Rick are a perfect example of how a successful match can be made and how homeshare can make such a positive difference in people's lives.’
The pair spend time together in the house, and while Rick does most of the cooking, he also loves playing golf and bridge.
Gretta added: ‘We do jigsaws and play cards together.
‘We love the garden, it is being transformed. Rick has spent a lot of time in the garden.’
The pair also shop together and share the groceries.
Gretta said: ‘It’s obviously not right for everybody - it’s another person in your house.
‘But depending on your need - I spent 25 years after my husband died being on my own and I didn’t want to be on my own any more.’
Rick added: ‘If you’ve got free time to contribute into the home, it’s a wonderful way of sharing.
‘If I was a working person, I wouldn’t have as much free time.
‘But if it’s the right thing, I can’t recommend it highly enough.’
Rick makes a contribution to the bills, and both parties pay a monthly fee to Two Generations for facilitating the match and providing ongoing support.
Sam added: ‘Homesharing is this very normal thing, it has all the safeguarding checks you’d expect, it’s like having a flatmate.
‘It’s about encouraging people to take that step, to being open and curious to find out more.
‘People can enhance their lives.’