Room for Tea

Room for Tea
Room for Tea is a new kind of homesharing network. It connects guests looking for short-term affordable accommodation in London, with hosts who have a spare room in their homes.
Social Purpose: 
Room for Tea has a social mission: to provide short-term affordable housing for young people undertaking internships or low- paid work experience, offering anyone, from anywhere, a fair chance at starting their dream career. RfT’s approach identifies two clear needs that have not yet been addressed together. RfT addresses the barriers to entry into the job market faced by a growing majority of young people in the UK. There are few jobs available for young people in the current economic context and internships have become vital experience for employment. Internships exclude those who live outside of London and cannot afford to pay rent. Hence, financial considerations prevent certain individuals from starting a career, which we perceive is a form of social exclusion. Moreover, part of our commitment is to reduce social isolation experienced by some of the 3.7 million of older people who live alone. A number of hosts we work with are older adults living alone, as well as single parents. Both categories can benefit from sharing their home with someone, on a flexible basis to suit their needs and from receiving a stable monthly income from renting out their spare room. RfT’s longer-term objective is to rethink and change the perceptions that generations may have of each other. We wish to address a lack of understanding towards older adults and ageing, and towards the younger generation.
Social Impact: 
In our initial research, we surveyed over 250 interns. 68% of the respondents stated that they did not have another paid job to support themselves for the duration of their internships. This shows that the high costs of undertaking an unpaid internship favours interns from affluent backgrounds, whose parents are able to offer financial support to cover their living costs, or those who already live in London. Since it’s launch, Room for Tea has helped nearly 200 young people find an affordable or free housing option so they could undertake a work placement. A third of the hosts we worked with were older adults. Furthermore, RfT is a service which is about more than just monetary savings. As an inter-generational network, we encourage the exploration of skill-sharing. We have seen several long-term relationships develop between guest and host. Initially, older adults were the only hosts we recruited, although we quickly realised that others could benefit from homesharing. Since its launch. Room for Tea has seen a large number of single parents register as hosts. Many benefit from the additional income, and from having someone around. We have been monitoring social impact through quantitative indicators, as well as qualitative assessment, by recording feedback from users through a series of questionnaires and interviews. Some highlights of the survey results are: 95% of hosts consider their experience with Room for Tea to be a highly valuable experience and they have enjoyed the company, felt safe having someone in the house and received help around the house. 50 % of the hosts feel that they have learned new skills from their guests. 50 % believe they will stay in touch with their guests. The majority of hosts claim that the extra revenue received from rent has been essential to cover their bills and mortgage payments. 70 % of guests thought it was an enormous relief to receive help to find affordable accommodation in London. 20 % said RfT helped a lot since they could not afford private accommodation otherwise. In terms of the results of their work placement: 36 % of guests believe they learnt new skills through their placements which will help them in their future career, 18 % secured a short-term position at the end of their placement, 9 % secured a job in the same company and 9 % secured a job with another company.
Innovative Character: 
Accommodation offered by RfT is both higher in quality than other short-term options in London, and on average costing two thirds less. RfT offers greater support and more personalised customer service than its competitors. RfT offers support to host and guest by providing guidance prior to the stay, organising payments and agreements, and addressing any issues throughout their stay. We have been developing innovative ways of building security and trust into our service. Our verification process uses a peer referencing system which vouches for our users' accountability. We feel that this is more reliable and cost-effective than traditional identity checks. We also built in features into the online profiles which allow users to get a better sense of the other person but also provides an infrastructure to make the matching process simpler. Finally, Room for Tea have created a platform that differs from its competitors, being people-centric and accessible, with legible copy, buttons and straightforward language. RfT’s approach identifies two clear needs that have not yet been addressed together. It differs from existing homesharing schemes, as it involves interns in need for affordable housing and hosts of various ages, who can benefit from sharing their homes.
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