Orkney Islands Council and Robert Gordon University have been invaluable partners to Hope Cohousing from the start. The local authority faces the challenge of an ageing population making heavy demands on health and social care resources. Many older people live in houses that are too cold, or too old or too remote from services. Luke Fraser, then Team Leader (Policy and Planning), Education, Leisure and Housing Services, recognised that the senior cohousing model, within a village community and with access to services, shops and public transport, offers one solution that can reduce those demands. Residents will be able to live independently for longer as they are in supportive settings and appropriate housing. Without Luke’s support, we would not be where we are today and we have a debt of gratitude to him. Conversations within the cohousing community show us how fortunate we are.
As well as working with Orkney Islands Council, we have been talking to Orkney Health and Care/NHS Orkney so they are fully aware of the potential benefits cohousing can offer. Councillor Rachael King, Chair of Orkney Integration Joint Board, said:
This is a really exciting project which demonstrates that community-led approaches to housing, health and social care can work seamlessly with local authorities and academia to design innovative solutions to meet the needs of our changing population. The Hope cohousing project fits perfectly with the work being undertaken by Orkney Health and Care on community-led support and will hopefully encourage communities across the islands to come forward with ideas of their own that in turn may inspire others.
Through our partnership with Robert Gordon University, we had the opportunity to work with Professor Gokay Deveci, an architect with an international reputation for affordable and sustainable low energy house design. Gokay’s work over the years has made a significant contribution to research in the field of innovative housing design, especially relating to low-cost solutions that use appropriate technology and building materials. From January 2020 architect Grigor Mitchell has taken on the detailed planning. Grigor is an award winning architect and certified Passivhaus designer. His support and encouragement have been invaluable.
Robert Gordon University is also interested in using our homes to pilot technology that can support older people living independently: for example, through monitoring movement, and measuring residents’ quality of life.
We have been active in, and supported by, Cohousing Scotland and UK Cohousing. The online sessions both organisations provide, connect us with the growing number of groups setting up community-led housing projects.