Seven individuals were selected after a training period, an interview and application process – just like any other job.
The role is paid and allows those who love Shared Lives reach out to individuals who could benefit from a similar arrangement.
The main role of each Ambassador is to promote Shared Lives through their story. However the role is also designed to provide independence for those looking for the challenges and benefits of employment who may be unable to work in some traditional settings.
Clare, is 21 and lives in a Bedfordshire Shared Lives arrangement. She is one of the seven ambassadors. Last year, Clare – through Shared Lives - appeared in a short film about her life and spoke at the Houses of Parliament. It was these experiences that gave her the confidence to apply to be an Ambassador. She says,
“Shared Lives should be available for whoever wants it and I hope I can use my time as an Ambassador to speak up about Shared Lives so more people know they can choose it.”
Clare’s hopes for improved availability echoes Shared Lives Plus’ aspiration to grow the service and double in size over 5 years. Although Shared Lives schemes across the UK currently support around 12,000 individuals with a variety of support needs, this currently represents only 0.8% of those in social care, and it is hoped that the Ambassadors will play a key role in increasing this ratio.
25 year old Michael who lives in Blackburn works hard to make life better for people with learning disabilities through involvement in a self- advocacy group, a hate crime group, the learning disability partnership board, as well as volunteering for Blackburn Youth Zone.
Michael said, “I am looking forward to speaking up about Shared Lives and helping other people who use Shared Lives have their say.”
Alex Fox, CEO of Shared Lives Plus says,
“What better way to champion Shared Lives than for those who use it every day to tell us just why it works.” He continues, “I have had the pleasure of meeting several of them at our Parliamentary Reception. I am positive that their voices can help Shared Lives be heard by those looking to change their current type of support.”
Case Study: Clare Cattani
Clare is 21 years old she lives with her Shared Lives family Ayisha, Joanne, Graham, Lorna, JJ the dog, several cats, rabbits, chickens, quail and a lot of bees in Bedfordshire.
Last year Clare appeared in a short film about her life in Shared Lives, spoke at the houses of parliament and gave an after dinner speech at our conference. Clare had never done anything like this before and it was these experiences that gave her the confidence to apply to be a Shared Lives ambassador and to co-chair this year’s conference.
Clare thinks Shared Lives should be available for whoever wants it and she would like to use her time as an Ambassador to speak up about Shared Lives so more people know they can choose it.
To view the film featuring Clare and her Shared Lives arrangement, please follow this link:
Notes to editors:
The State of Shared Lives in England 2015 is available at www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Shared Lives Plus
Shared Lives Plus is the UK network of family-based or very small scale care, support and inclusion approaches for disabled people, young people and older people.
In Shared Lives, an adult (and in some cases a16 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.