As part of Holdsworth’s HomeShare program, Bernie shares his home with university student Cale – a living situation they both consider adds value to their lives.
The pair were matched through a comprehensive check process to ensure a safe and warm home environment was created for each of them. They receive regular check-ins from our Holdsworth team.
Before Bernie’s first meeting with Cale, Bernie was hesitant to say the least. After losing his wife six years ago, then leaving his home of 20 years on the Gold Coast to be closer to his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, Bernie had family who were worried about him. They’d encouraged Bernie to consider HomeShare – where an older person shares their home with a younger person in exchange for reduced rent and a little bit of help – and while Bernie had technically agreed, he wasn’t really going to go for it.
Then Cale walked in. The living, breathing embodiment of Bernie’s old friend Graham from back in the UK. Bernie was so surprised, all his hesitation went out the window and was replaced by curiosity. Not only did Cale look like Graham, he was a transport buff just like his old acquaintance. “I was delighted,” says Bernie, reflecting on their first meeting.
Fast forward several months and Bernie and Cale have settled into a unique friendship, even sitting down to daily breakfast together. As an 18-year-old, Cale spends a lot of time working (in the transport industry, obviously), and earning his Bachelor degree at UTS, and Bernie’s place is a short drive to both. Interestingly, Cale saw Bernie’s building being developed years ago on visits to Cale’s grandfather in a nursing home – so it’s an area he’s familiar with and is close to his heart.
Outside of work and university, Cale spends time with Bernie and helps him around the house (especially with pesky TV tech issues!). An unexpected side effect of the situation is that Cale genuinely enjoys Bernie’s company. “It’s probably hard to find older men who aren’t grumpy,” says Cale (and Bernie laughs when he says that), “but with Bernie I find there’s a lot every day that makes me laugh.” Bernie says he’s always been known as a jokster, and reminds Cale about the time he misheard the word ‘sheet’ and thought he was in for a much smellier job than he’d been asked to help with!
When Bernie’s family first proposed HomeShare, they didn’t know how it would work out. But with heartbreaking health risks associated with loneliness, they knew they needed to do something to help Bernie, and now that Cale has established himself as a luminous fixture in Bernie’s life, they know it was the right decision.
HomeShare matches older people living alone in their own home with a younger person who is happy to provide companionship for affordable accommodation in the South East, Inner West, City or Northern Suburbs.
For more information in Holdsworth HomeShare, or to find out if you or someone you know might be a good fit for the program, contact our HomeShare Coordinator.