In the summer of 2022, Christine Rahman found herself in a challenging financial situation after leaving her London job. However, as she began looking through various room rental ads, one home-share opportunity caught her attention.
The room was unbelievably cheap for how nice it looked, though what truly intrigued Rahman was the description of the person seeking a roommate. The woman was a former psychologist from the prison service, and given Rahman’s own interest in psychology, she found the idea of living with someone with such experience fascinating.
The woman was fluent in French, perfect for Rahman who came from a French-speaking background.
Under this particular Share and Care Homeshare program, a sharer agrees to pay a rent of just over $6 per day and commits to dedicating 15 hours each week to provide practical help and support to the person who owns the home, whether that’s tending to the garden, preparing warm meals, or simply being available for conversation.
Rahman decided to explore this opportunity with Margaret Smith, an 83-year-old legally blind woman living with Parkinson’s disease. For Smith, having someone in the house was a welcome idea, providing much-needed company and support.
Upon meeting Smith, Rahman saw that the house was adorned with artwork, books, and unique knick-knacks. Rahman noted that Smith had a warm, friendly nature, and along with her daughter’s involvement in the process, she made Rahman feel right at home.
Although Rahman assists Smith with tasks around the house, such as cooking and finding her phone now and then, she is not her caretaker. In fact, Smith receives additional caretaker support every day. According to Smith, Rahman is more part of her family.
Rahman expressed how Smith makes her feel like a true member of their household. They bond quite often and have even had Rahman’s mom over for a “French Evening” dinner.
Rahman prepares tea and breakfast for them each day before working from home and often takes breaks to have a chat or prepare lunch for them.
In the evenings, she often cooks adventurous dishes for herself and Smith, as they share a love for food and have formed a special bond over trying out various recipes.
Beyond their love for food, Rahman also finds joy in reading poetry to Smith and engaging in meaningful conversations about psychology and politics.
The companionship and intellectual stimulation have profoundly impacted Smith. She appreciates their relationship and the fact that Rahman introduces her to TV programs she might not have discovered on her own, such as French news.
Rahman acknowledges that being part of a home-share requires planning and organization, such as the fact that she always has to have meals prepared in advance whenever she goes out.
However, living with Margaret Smith has allowed Rahman to establish her own routines while supporting Smith with hers. She doesn’t view taking care of Smith as a burden. Instead, she sees it as a precious opportunity to experience what it might have been like to know her own grandparents.