Blake has learning difficulties and ADHD and needs support on a daily basis and his favourite thing to do is street dance. Beverley, who lives with her partner Mick, had been a foster parent to a few children and was happy to welcome Blake in to her home, when he was seven years old. When he was 17 years old, Beverley applied to be a Shared Lives carer so that Blake could stay with her. Now 20 years old, Blake says the last seven years with Beverley has given him security: “I feel safe here and Beverley has helped me look after myself and taught me new things.” He is one of 12,000 people across the UK benefiting from a Shared Lives arrangement. Beverley said: “This is the longest and closest relationship he has ever had. He is not capable of living on his own and is more settled now. It has made a real difference to him to have someone he knows is always there for him. I am so glad I did it!”
Shared Lives is a unique kind of care which asks Shared Lives carers to open up their homes to vulnerable people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, or to older people, to live with them as part of their family. Beverley said: “I don’t know what would have happened to Blake if I hadn’t been able to keep him through a Shared Lives arrangement. He would probably be in a unit with staff looking after him and it wouldn’t be a home setting. He has a happier life now and a home he might not have had.”
On 15 October, The Avalon Group, which runs the scheme, alongside Wirral Council are holding an official re-launch of their Shared Lives scheme as it looks to expand the reach of the service and the amount of carers who can provide support. It will be opened by Cllr Christine Jones, Wirral’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, and Alex Fox, CEO of Shared Lives Plus. Avalon Group CEO, Larry Hollando said: “Shared Lives allows people to develop and thrive in a safe, family environment whilst learning skills and working towards personal goals.”
For media enquiries or to arrange an interview please call The Communications Team on 0151 227 3499 or Helen Brennan on 07867 456476.
Shared Lives Plus is the UK network of family-based or very small scale care, support and inclusion approaches for disabled or older people. Our membership of 4,800 includes Shared Lives carers and local Shared Lives schemes. We have 12,000 people in the UK who use our service.
In Shared Lives, an adult (and in some cases 16 or 17 year old) who needs support and/or accommodation moves in with or regularly visits an approved Shared Lives carer, after they have been matched for compatibility. Together, they share family and community life. In many cases the individual becomes a settled part of a supportive family, although Shared Lives is also used as day support, as breaks for unpaid family carers, as home from hospital care and as a stepping stone for someone to get their own place.
For further information about the Avalon Group, please contact James Plummer on 01423 530 053.
Local charity Shared Lives Plus is relaunching this week to coincide with Shared Lives Week, 11-19 October 2014.