Housing and care the big challenges
Like many countries, the UK is struggling with two key issues, care and support for older people and a lack of affordable housing. One of the consequences is the pricing out of young people from the housing market (rent and ownership). But the lack of affordable housing is affecting people of all ages, and it was reported recently that there has been a dramatic rise of over 50s having to resort to house sharing. Last year, Age UK reported that there were 2 million older people living in poverty in the UK and many more are likely to be added as we face the worst fuel crisis in modern times.
Commitment to those in need
In Bristol, many organisations are committed to doing something to alleviate the serious challenges faced by older and young people alike each day. For example, The Anchor Society CIO provides grants for older people facing hardship for basic necessities (e.g. furniture, boilers, and white goods) and Age UK Bristol (AUKB) provides income maximisation support through its Information & Advice service, which brings an average of £2 million in unclaimed benefits and allowances to older Bristolians’ pockets each year. Supported by St Monica Trust, Bristol City Council, and the Anchor Society, AUKB also has a fund to help older people in fuel poverty.
Innovative intergenerational housing
Short term financial aid in whatever form is essential, but are there longer-term solutions to meeting those in need. Housing costs as a proportion of income are at an all-time high, and a key driving factor of poverty. The Anchor Society, together with All Saints Church Lands Charity, visited an award-winning housing complex in Alicante before lockdown which provides affordable housing for young and old alike. This complex provides housing for over 80, with the young people providing support (befriending) for lower rent. The young people are largely key workers and the ones we met were social work students and young social workers. The support given to older people by their young neighbours means that they need never be lonely or struggling with day-to-day tasks. So, the issues of affordable housing and care are resolved in one project. It is a highly successful housing solution which we are seeking to emulate in Bristol.
Key to the success of the project will be the creation of community; something that AUKB has been involved with for many years. As the lead partner for the city’s Age-friendly City strategy, AUKB has been working with organisations and departments across local government, the charity sector, businesses to improve services and spaces for older residents now and in the future. AUKB’s programme of social opportunities, including the Friends Ageing Better network and other regular events through its LinkAge service, support people to make social connections and make the most of the arts and culture our city has to offer.
New Fosseway Road
In a similar fashion, Bristol City Council is committed to building sustainable communities. As the local authority, there is a duty to provide extra care housing under their Better Lives at Home Programme, alongside a shortage of housing that needs to be addressed.
Goram Homes, Bristol City Council’s housing company, secured planning approval in December for 190 new homes on New Fosseway Road, on the site of a former school in Hengrove. This multi-generational housing development addresses both core issues faced by the city. The plans encompass extra care housing alongside the delivery of new homes including more than 100 new affordable homes. These new homes will add to the 2,563 new homes built in 2021/22 in Bristol, including more affordable new homes than for any year in the last twelve.
By approaching community building in multi-pronged basis, they are able to build sustainable communities that will remain suitable to the changing needs and requirements of the local community.
Working in Partnership
We believe that none of us has all the solutions but that working together we can make a difference. Both The Anchor Society CIO and Age UK Bristol are involved in a number of alliances and partnerships across the city.