Hope CoHousing have been awarded over £48,000 by Inspiring Scotland’s Rural Communities Ideas into Action Fund.
The project aims to develop Orkney’s first cohousing development and Scotland’s only entirely rental cohousing scheme.
Hope CoHousing was set up to address issues of social isolation, loneliness and fuel poverty experienced by older people in the community. The experience of COVID and lockdowns has demonstrated how damaging social isolation and loneliness are and the harm done to mental health.
Jenny Rambridge, director of Hope Cohousing, welcomed the award for this innovative scheme:
“Alongside the support we’ve had from the local community and from Orkney Islands Council, it is a real boost to receive this grant. It will help us with preconstruction costs and move us closer to breaking ground on our site in St Margaret’s Hope.
“All of us in HCH are working hard to make our vision a reality – to build affordable, sustainable homes for older people as a lasting community benefit.”
The community-led development will include six eco-aware modern houses in the heart of St Margaret’s Hope, South Ronaldsay. They will provide accessible and adaptable living spaces with shared areas. The rents will be affordable, ensuring equal access to all in perpetuity. The residents will live independently in their own homes supporting and looking out for each other.
This innovative development is particularly important in Orkney where there is a larger proportion of older people in the community . There is a lack of fit for purpose housing for seniors. In fact, Orkney has one of the lowest rates of new affordable house completion in Scotland. The availability of affordable private-sector housing has also been constrained by an increased number of second homes and properties bought to let to tourists. In addition, Orkney has one of the highest levels of fuel poverty.
Hope Cohousing is creating a blueprint for other community-led housing projects in rural and island locations. Supported by Orkney Islands Council, the model is replicable and attractive now as there is a severe shortage of suitable and affordable rental homes for older people.