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February 8, 2012

Planning a more fulfilling future

The fact that we’re living longer is both a cause for celebration and deep concern. Notwithstanding that most of us are hopelessly under-provided for pension-wise, the various options which are designed to meet our social care needs as we grow older hold very little appeal.  It was this concern as much as anything that inspired a group from Fife to come up with a much more attractive alternative. Their plans are starting to take shape and they’re ready to spread the word



For details of forthcoming seminar, click here

Vivarium came into being in 2003 as a result of a group of friends aged 50+ considering the problems which they were facing as they grew older, especially in relation to housing and to their ability to afford the sort of housing and community setting which would be appropriate in later years. They came across Co-Housing, were attracted by its key features, and have explored and developed their interest in Co-Housing since then. Vivarium has been holding open meetings since 2003, has around 25-30 members, and has an active steering group who work hard to push the project forward. Our original constitution, agreed in 2003, was revised in 2007 as we moved towards charity status and now emphasises the benefits which Vivarium offers to the public at large through its educational and support activities.

Vivarium’s Pilot project 

We intend to create a pilot Co-Housing development to demonstrate that Co-Housing is achievable in Scotland.  The pilot project will provide a working example of Co-Housing in practice and will contribute to an understanding of how affordable Co-Housing can be set up, designed, funded, built and managed.  It will demonstrate the process of development and the ongoing operation of a Co-Housing community and will offer real life feedback.  

The project’s progress will contribute to an understanding of ‘best practise’ in developing and operating Co-Housing, for example by highlighting the inevitable problems which will be encountered and how they can be overcome.  The experience gained from the pilot project – both positive and negative – will be fundamental in rolling out Co-Housing more widely. 

The Pilot project will comprise around 20-25 homes for individuals and for couples, together with the shared facilities.  The development will probably be located in Fife and will be sited in or in close proximity to an existing town or village, with all normal facilities and services available.

We are actively seeking possible sites for the pilot development, possibly in partnership with other organisations who have suitable land and buildings available.

The Vivarium Trust’s board are part of an active Steering Group comprising Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer and between two and four other members.  The Steering Group meets regularly, liaises with outside organisations, identifies funding opportunities and applies for funding where appropriate, arranges events, etc. etc.

Sub-committees or ad hoc groups of two or three members are called upon from time to time to help with particular projects (e.g. setting up a fund raising raffle, organising a ceilidh dance, completing funding applications).  The wider the load can be spread, the more effective we can be and the greater the satisfaction felt by all members through direct personal involvement.


The full membership of Vivarium is kept fully informed of the actions and proposed actions of the Steering Group at the regular monthly meetings; and all members are involved in full discussion and agreement before any major or controversial decisions are made.

We are conscious that the time demands made of the Steering Group (all volunteers, of course) are already considerable and will grow in the future, and that the speed of progress is limited by the fact that all members of the Steering Group have many work, family and other personal commitments.  We now have funding from The Tudor Trust to appoint a salaried part time Development Worker who will take on some of the load while working closely with the Steering Group.

For details of forthcoming seminar, click here