Maggie who uses Shared Lives services recently asked her Shared Lives carer to write in to us and share her story. We hope you enjoy reading Maggie's story and looking at her pictures. This story is a great example of the positive impact Shared Lives can have on people's lives who have support needs and are looking to become a part of and living in a family enviroment instead of traditional forms of care.
“Hello, my name is Maggie and I have been living in Shared Lives for two years. I have really enjoyed my time being in a family and have made lots of new friends. I have also loved learning new skills, and trying out new things. This is the first time I have rode a horse and it was absolutely brilliant. I now go to eazyfit and the Odell centre, I also go to discos to see my friends. What I do love about Droitwich, is the band in the park in the summer. I have learnt how to cook with the help of my Shared Lives carers, Jackie and Kevin, and I enjoy preparing meals. Another bonus to living in Shared Lives is that I have been enjoying trips out and holidays. I have been to Lanzarote and this year we went to Portugal. Other places I have visited have been Blackpool, Coronation Street, BGT, Ironbridge, SS Great Britain to name a few. It is brilliant to live as part of a family and share our lives.”
Emma and Tommy O’Connor receive MBE for 50 years of caring.
For Shared Lives week 2017, Lesley Dixon, CEO of Person Shared Support (PSS) writes a guest blog for Shared Lives and tells us why she believes Shared Lives should be a choice for all people with support needs.
PSS is a business with a heart that helps people change their lives for the better. We provide a range of health and social care services that help people from all different backgrounds get the most from their lives, and since we were founded in 1919, we’ve never stood still. We’re always looking for new ways to help – which, in 1978, led us to set up the UK’s first Shared Lives scheme.
Shared Lives week 2017 celebrates the diversity of people using our care model, from people with learning disabilities, people with mental ill health and long term illnesses- Shared Lives is supporting people in the UK, to live a better life in a family home.
This year’s Shared Lives week will be about spreading awareness of our care model, demonstrating that Shared Lives should be offered as a choice for all people with support needs that could benefit from using Shared Lives services.
Shared Lives carers often support people with a variety and number of support needs, the positive impact this has on people’s wellbeing is life-changing. Therefore, this year we are urging MP’s, organisations and people in social care to spread awareness, so that Shared Lives is offered to all people that could benefit from it. Whilst it may not be the right fit for every single person, we believe it should certainly be a choice for all.
Shared Lives Ambassador, Michael said: “Shared Lives carers have helped me out with emotional support, gave me someone to talk too, be healthier and I’ve been supported well, and everything I’ve learned with Shared Lives will help me in the future.”
At a time when social care is in crisis and underfunded, Shared Lives can offer an alternative for people to live in a family home, with plenty of support and increase people’s independence- all whilst saving local authorities money that is needed with budgets being cut.
We’re asking all our Shared Lives carers, Shared Lives Plus members, schemes and people who use Shared Lives services, to spread the word far and wide. So many people can benefit from Shared Lives, it’s time they learnt that there is another option out there, in a family home with support- to help people get involved in their local community and work towards their own goals.
That’s why this year’s theme is #SharedLivesChoiceForAll - we would love everyone to get involved on social media. Share your stories, tell people in your community about Shared Lives and spread the word that Shared Lives should be a choice for all people who need support, and could benefit from living in a family environment.
Throughout this Shared Lives week we are sharing stories from Shared Lives carers, people who use our services and spreading awareness throughout the country, please join us and get involved in your local areas.
Our latest guest blog is from another one of our Ambassadors, Michael. In the past Michael was a part of a Shared Lives arrangement, he now lives independently. Michael’s blog is about his journey to living independently with help and support from Shared Lives along the way.
“In September 2011 I moved from fostering to Shared Lives, I lived with a Shared Lives carer 24/7 until 17th May 2012.
It was good because it helped me learn how to become independent. On the 17th May 2012, I moved from my Shared Lives arrangement into supported living, but I continued to use Shared Lives for day support
One Shared Lives carer that supported me was called Sharon. She supported me a few times a week to help me get out and about. We went to the Coronation street tour 3 times, Disney on Ice, shopping and the cinema. We had fun and many lovely times, Sharon even helped me with household tasks, like buying things for my home and supported me until October 2015. Shared Lives carer, Sharon was the best worker I've had since my mentor in 2007/08. I still miss her but everything I’ve done and learned with Sharon will stay with me.
I’ve had a few other Shared Lives carers in that time that didn’t always work out- but when I moved on 22 April 2015, I met Syvania. She supported me for 9 and a half hours and Sharon was also supporting me for 8 hours, Select Support Partnership were with me for 9 hours a week. I have many lovely memories with Syvania, she helped me to stop drinking fizzy pop and drink healthy fruit juice instead, and I only have fizzy pop when I’m having a mocktail or cocktail now.
My Shared Lives carers have been like a mum to me, they have patience to teach me new skills, they’ve helped to teach me to cook and clean up.
People who don’t know about Shared Lives could learn from Shared Lives carers, they help to improve people’s life skills, go out on trips and holidays, and get you involved with community groups.
Shared Lives carers have helped me out with emotional support, given me someone to talk to, be healthier and I’ve been supported well. Everything I’ve learned with Shared Lives will help me in the future.
Shared Lives has helped me to be more organised, which means I worry less, everything is in order which means I’m less anxious now. I know how to do shopping lists, Shared Lives carers told me to check what I’ve got in before I go shopping, so I don’t buy the same stuff. I look out for offers and shop in the healthy isle. They’ve taught and showed me how to manage my money. “
Michael lives independently now and gets support from another agency but is still a part of the Shared Lives family as one of our Ambassadors.
For further information about becoming a Shared Lives carer, a member or using Shared Lives services, phone the office on 01512273499.
Shared Lives Plus are pleased to announce that we have received funding and will be working with the Department of Education to further develop our support to young people leaving care. The project will run in eight demonstrator sites across England offering Shared Lives to young people who would not normally have this option, and we are excited by the new challenge.
You can read the full press release, Innovative projects to get £36 million funding boost, here.
Alex Fox's blog for NLGN (New Local Government Network) talks about the results of blanket scepticism that look surprisingly similar to the results of blanket credulity. How Shared Lives and Homeshare make people inclined to trust people that they open their homes and lives too- who they have not known very long.
Alex Fox: "This seems a strange time to be suggesting that we all trust each other – whether we are Shared Lives carers or politicians – more. As 2017 picks up where 2016 left off, I am not completely confident that I will be able to practice what I preach on this, all of the time. But if you’re willing to try to approach me with something like sceptical trust, most of the time, I will do the same for you.
It is, I think, from small acts of trust that functioning communities, organisations and even nations are built."
You can read the full article on the NLGN website here.