We have come so far since forming in 2013. We are really appreciative of all the people who have been members of CoHUT: building the website, writing our conflict resolution policy, writing successful funding bids, making us laugh, teaching us communication skills, providing lovely food, still sending us £5/month five years after stepping down. Thank you!
Here are our members as of 2022.
Harry has an interest in collective decision-making, governance and ownership. He has been involved with CoHUT since it’s forming stages, attending early information sharing meetings and taking part in visioning exercises held at the Star and Shadow Cinema and Brunswick Church. These brought together like-minded people to discuss alternative approaches to housing and various groups developed out of these meetings, including CoHUT.
As a tenant in private rental, Harry was motivated by his frustration at how on a low income you can get stuck renting, with tenancies that tend to favour the needs of the landlord and rent levels meaning it’s hard to secure things for the future. For him CoHUT is a political act, empowering each other to develop alternative economies and to act as an example for others. For him cohousing represents an opportunity to address issues within society relating to connectedness and people’s ability to have control over their lives.
Helen has been part of the core group of CoHUT from the beginning. She has long been drawn to activism around collaborative housing and resilient communities through her university research and teaching, and her experience of juggling home and career as a single parent. She has gained some practical insights of collective decision-making and group-work from periods or research in residence with iconic intentional communities (such as Christiania, Denmark, and Findhorn, Scotland) but she has otherwise felt ‘trapped’ by a lack of affordable, collaborative, sustainable, alternative housing in the UK.
Since the 1990s Helen has conducted in-depth research and published widely on community-led housing, notably cohousing, focussing on the social assets of ‘sharing, togetherness, and sustainable degrowth’. Her approach to university education emphasises public engagement and grassroots movements of social change. Recent examples include podcasts, green-living festivals, presentations to North of Tyne Citizens Assembly on Climate Change and submissions to local and national government on new sources of community housing. Helen sat on the board of directors of the UK Cohousing Network 2014-2018 and she remains active in community organising as part of Tyne and Wear Citizens (a branch of Citizens UK).
“Cohousing helps to combat isolation and loneliness - and I view it as a platform for social and environmental activism!”
As soon as she heard about cooperative cohousing, Jane found it immediately appealing, especially as someone who very much appreciates the freedoms of living alone. As she found out during a period of serious illness, though, there can be downsides – and that’s when neighbours, and neighbourliness, can be very important.
Unlike some of the other members, Jane isn’t an eco-warrior or a housing activist or a cyclist (although she does hate driving and is really looking forward to not having to do that anymore, perhaps). She’s a freelance translator working from home – another reason to live in a community.
Jane wants to live in a place where her neighbours are young and old and in between, where people know her and she knows them, where there are ways to solve problems constructively and there is a sense of belonging.
For Rachel, cohousing represents a balance of sharing resources and living more connected lives, while still being able to close the door to the outside world and relax in your own private space. She’s excited about being part of this community and watching how it evolves as we increase in size and become more connected to the land that we will inhabit. She’s also really excited about being part of a Mutual Home Ownership Scheme. After 20 years in the private rental market, Rachel looks forward to the radical shift CoHUT offers for her relationship with housing.
"CoHUT represents part of the design for a society that I would be happier living in."
Ruth has been part of the core group of CoHUT since the beginning. Pre CoHUT she set up a network - 'Living for the Future' which advocated for and educated about alternative housing and brought together those interested in starting a cohousing project on Tyneside. This helped to get the group started. She is very involved in the North East Community Environmental networks, facilitating individuals and groups to learn from and connect with each other; she was a co-founder of the WEA North East Green Branch and before this, the co-ordinator of the North East Transition Towns Regional gatherings and co-founder and (co-) co-ordinator of Newcastle Community Green Festival.
The work that gives her most enjoyment is her educational work with adults about the environment which has become her specialism over the last 10 years. This has taken a number of forms, working in community centres, exploring ways to engage people about the environment at community events, giving talks, running training and workshops, and most recently engaging people in protecting nature in Wingrove and Arthur's Hill.
She has a comprehensive knowledge of sustainability and the sustainability aspect is what inspires her most about CoHUT. She is looking forward to living in the first Passivehaus houses in Newcastle and seeing how low the energy bills go! And to seeing how lightly on the earth she can live when sharing resources, such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cargo bikes, etc. She is also hoping to eat more home grown food by being more motivated by others around her to grow it and process it. And sitting on the common house veranda in the evening sun.
When she first heard about cohousing as an architecture student, where it was mentioned in a class about new ways of living, Sarah found it an exciting idea.
Next, at a community project she was involved in, she happened to cross paths with a CoHUT member, and they discussed the project, and Sarah came away feeling excited that this was happening locally.
And then along came Covid, and she got thinking about the big, scary questions of adulthood – how to earn money, who to live with, whether she’d ever be able to buy a house, and she realised that cohousing could offer a solution to some of these questions – one that was helpful and hopeful in terms of how to live (treading as lightly as possible on the earth, in community with others, rather than alone) as well as where to live. And that’s when Sarah decided to join CoHUT.