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Brief Published: 8 Mar 2017

Co-Housing Community for Older Women

OWCH members

A group of single women over 50 have created a co-housing scheme in Barnet, London, as an alternative to living alone in areas where they don't know their neighbours.

The OWCH (Older Women's Co-Housing) complex is the first of its kind in Britain, aiming to enrich the lives of residents and reduce pressures on health and care services. It comprises 17 flats for sale and eight for rent, with shared social spaces arranged around a central courtyard. A common house features a meeting room, kitchen, dining area, guest room and laundry facilities.

"It's never been done before and we will be completely running it ourselves. We are making history and we are extremely proud. We are not going to be a little ghetto of older people, we want to be good neighbours," 84-year-old co-founder Shirley Meredeen told Architects' Journal.

The final residents moved in during February 2017. While there are currently no vacancies, the group is planning to build a small circle of women who are interested in co-housing and who, as of spring 2017, will be the first to be informed if a flat becomes available.

Loneliness in later life remains a problem for many seniors: nearly half (49%) of over-75s in the UK live alone, while 12% of over-65s never spend time with family (Age UK, 2015). Brands offering services that cater to older consumers' desire for companionship and connection are set to succeed, as explored in Seniors Level Up.

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