This week the Older Women’s Cohousing (OWCH) group moves into New Ground Cohousing, its new home in High Barnet. This will be the first senior cohousing community in the UK and its members have been planning this development for many years.
Our Senior Consultant Meera Bedi has been involved with the OWCH project for 15 years, most recently during her time at Altair as a development consultant for Housing for Women, who have been working with OWCH alongside Hanover Housing to help them realise their vision.
The Older Women’s Cohousing group, which consists of 26 women, aged 50-87, will this week take possession of a block of 25 newly built flats in Union Street, High Barnet. Together they will form a self-managing community, based on the shared values of neighbourliness and mutual support. A mix of home-owners and social renters, they want to act as a demonstration project to encourage other older people to plan their later lives and develop similar initiatives.
Having lived mostly alone all over London and beyond, these independent minded women have met regularly to develop their own mini-neighbourhood in High Barnet, design their building and plan their future together. Some OWCH members are still working and others have long retired – many from the public sector. Aware that advancing old age can mean increased frailty and possible isolation and loneliness, they have joined forces to plan ahead. Most of all, they want to stay in charge of their own lives.
They also want a lively mix of sociability and shared activity plus clear boundaries for personal space and a private life. They intend to look out for each other and share resources as well as reach out to their locality. One of the earliest actions they plan is to invite the whole street in for coffee to see the building that has been under construction, causing inconvenience for a considerable time. They intend to enjoy becoming known as the pioneers of the country’s first ever senior cohousing community, establishing here what has been a feature of Dutch and Scandinavian life for decades.
About Senior Cohousing:
- Is an ideal form of housing for older people who want to down-size and/or who live alone, (as do 60% of women over 75 years) but also want to stay engaged and active.
- It draws on the strengths and skills of older people themselves, sustains their continued autonomy and is based on collaboration and good will.
- Maintaining a wide age range from 50 years upwards and a reserve membership is an important feature for sustainability in senior cohousing.
- It has been widely promoted in The Netherlands and Scandinavia as a means of keeping older people active and happy and healthy.
- Increasing numbers of older people living alone and in unsuitable housing in Britain means that many remain unsupported and isolated, with a consequent serious impact on health and social care services.
For more information about the project and cohousing, please contact Meera Bedi, Senior consultant at Altair on 07968 888 021 | firstname.lastname@example.org.