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The power of people’s stories: Shared Lives members meet Minister for Mental Wellbeing in Scotland

“We want Shared Lives and Homeshare to be available to people in every area of Scotland, and for that to happen we need the Scottish Government to push for change.

“A lot of my work for Shared Lives Plus can be described as trying to influence people and the policies or services that they are responsible for, and I have spent too much of my life trying to provide all the technical answers to questions that were not asked. I used to think that if only I could provide all the answers, then there was no reason for people not to fund, grow or diversify Shared Lives services….

Ben Hall, Development Manager for Scotland shares his recent experience of meeting Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care in the Scottish Government with colleagues Abby Farrell and Heather Thomson, both Ambassadors who are supported by Shared Lives carers from East Lothian Council and Cornerstone Shared Lives service respectively.

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“But it is not true, having the answers without the people impresses but does not capture their imagination.

“We met with Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care in the Scottish Government this week. We had 45 mins of online meeting to tell him all about Shared Lives and Homeshare, help him understand the impact that they have, and ask for support to grow the sector. Our ambassadors Abby Farrell and Heather Thompson were the reason that he agreed to meet up, he wanted to hear their stories, how Shared Lives had changed their lives. They talked, as they so often do, in a compelling way, about how their lives would be different without Shared Lives, about working at the cafĂ©, and baking the cakes for regulars. They talked about volunteering at Oxfam, at the local radio station, about the dogs they have, the extended family created by Shared Lives and how important these people are to them. They talked about relationships.

“And it was clear, whilst the Minister listened to my list of opportunities and barriers that he could help with, that, what he linked into, what he connected to, were the lives that Heather and Abby lead. They built the relationship with him, and connected him to Shared Lives and he will more likely remember the meeting because of that.

“The National Care Service offers a chance to create Shared Lives across Scotland. We hope that as the plans develop and work their way through parliament, the importance and power of relationships stay with the Minister, because it is with good relationships that people thrive.”

If you would like to meet people supported by Shared Lives carers and schemes or to look at the benefits of starting a Shared Lives scheme in your area, please contact Ben Hall, Development Manager for Scotland, ben@sharedlivesplus.org.uk