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Shared Lives carers celebrated at Royal Garden Party

On Wednesday May 25th, 2022, a group of Shared Lives carers attended the Queen’s Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, in recognition of their incredible work.

Manjit and Kulvinder Chatwal, Jim and Lin Corbett, Wilma Fergus, and Steve Collis were invited to the exclusive event along with Lynette Barlow, our finance director.

Over the course of each year, The Queen welcomes over 30,000 guests to spend a relaxed summer afternoon in the beautiful gardens of Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyrood house. Garden Parties have been an important way for The Queen to speak to a broad range of people from all walks of life, all of whom have made a positive impact in their community. While 2022 saw Garden Parties resume after a two-year break, cause by the Covid-19 pandemic, The Queen’s mobility issues meant that Wednesday’s event was hosted by William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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The weather was typically British, with sunshine and showers throughout the day, but that didn’t get in the way of the carers’ enjoyment.

Steve Collis, who combines his work as a Shared Lives carer with PSS Liverpool with his role as one of our Carer Champions said

“I’m so proud to be representing the Shared Lives Plus family and the wider carer group. It’s a privilege to be here today with Lynette and the wonderful carers we brought along with us. it’s been a wonderful afternoon even though it’s rained.”

A sentiment shared by Kulvinder Chatwal, a Shared Lives carer with the Royal borough of Greenwich,

“We’re still having a good time, even if the weather is no good”.

Lin Corbett, who provides support through Camphill Village Trust, even got the opportunity to speak with the Duchess of Cambridge in person.

“It’s been so special, and it’s just so nice to be recognised for what we do.”

Jim, her husband, added

“it’s very good for all the Shared Lives carers we’re supporting by being here because every one of them is as special as we have been made to feel today.”

Jayne Wilson, interim CEO at Shared Lives Plus said:

“We are delighted that Shared Lives, and the work of Shared Lives carers, is being recognised for the incredible contribution it makes to people’s lives in the UK. It is a huge honour to be invited to Buckingham Palace, and one that is more than deserved by each of these carers.”

Across the UK, there are 10,000 Shared Lives Carers supporting more than 15,000 adults, through 150 different schemes. Local Shared Lives services are fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission, which consistently rates the model as the best quality and safest form of adult social care, with 96% of all Shared Lives schemes rated as good or outstanding.

Shared Lives Carers, come from a range of backgrounds, and are carefully matched with their guests to help them develop practical skills, build self-esteem and establish new friendships and social networks in their own neighbourhood. For many Shared Lives carers, like Wilma Fergus, who was a registered carer with PossAbilities in Manchester, it is a true vocation.

“I was a Shared Lives carer for 30 years and when I retired, I was heartbroken – but these things happen, and we all have to retire sometime. Now here we are at Buckingham Palace being rewarded for enjoying ourselves caring!  So, anybody who wants to be a carer, join Shared Lives.”

As the day drew to a close Lynette Barlow, Shared Lives Plus finance director and interim deputy CEO, reflected on the event:

“It’s been an absolute honour to spend the day with our amazing carer members. Their dedication to what they do, come rain or shine, is truly inspiring.”