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Date published: June 13, 2024

New programme for care experienced young people launches this week

A new UK-wide programme seeking to address challenges of mental health, health, education and employment that young people who have experienced the social care system, launched this week. Young people, Directors of Adult and Children’s social care and 16 local areas across England, Scotland and Wales and have committed to developing Shared Lives care for 16+ over the next two years.

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Young people who may have grown up in foster care or residential care, often experience higher rates of mental ill-health (45%, compared to 10% for non-care experienced young people)[1] and disabled children are more likely to be looked after, than non-disabled children (5.7% of disabled children are looked after compared to 0.6% of the general population)[2] and remain in care for longer.

Given these challenges, the new programme seeks to develop Shared Lives, an existing social care service that is similar to foster care – and that typically supports adults with learning disabilities to live in ordinary family or house-share homes, supported by specially assessed Shared Lives carers – to adapt to support young people leaving care.

The programme, run by Shared Lives Plus, UK membership charity, and funded by The Rayne Foundation and Segelman Trust, aims to improve outcomes for young people with one or all of: mental ill-health, learning disabilities and autism. It also aims to reduce challenges young people face when leaving care, for example: poor mental health and wellbeing, educational outcomes and accommodation insecurity.

Shared Lives care is a flexible, personalised social care service which is consistently rated the best quality and safest form of social care available in the UK.

It works through personalised matching between someone who needs emotional and practical support to live an ordinary life, and assessed and approved Shared Lives carers, who open their own homes to have someone come and visit, or live with them. Around 10,000 people across the UK visit or live with a Shared Lives carer, matched through one of the UK’s 150 Shared Lives schemes, commissioned by local authorities over the past 40 years.

[1] Baker, 2007

[2] Gordon et al 2000

“We are delighted to launch this new programme for care experienced young people – Shared Lives can offer a stable, loving base for people at a time of transition, from which they can learn skills and independence which give them life-long opportunities. It’s brilliant that so many local authorities want to prioritise support for young people through Shared Lives, and we’re excited about what we can learn and achieve together.”

- Shared Lives Plus CEO, Ewan King

“I have seen first hand the difference Shared Lives care makes, first through personal experience of two aunts – one of whom lived a full and active life with a Shared Lives carer, and the other who lived a quieter life in a residential care home. I then became a local Shared Lives scheme manager and helped develop Shared Lives for young people. The challenge and the opportunity for this programme is for local authorities to work with young people and local partners to develop services together, rather than just having a service-to-service arrangement – Shared Lives needs to be embedded in every area’s local offer.”

- Katie Brown, Director of Adult Social Care Services, North East Lincolnshire Council

“I feel very passionate that everyone who has lived a life in care, should have the option of Shared Lives, to live in a family home environment that feels caring, nurturing and loving. There need to be more options for young people once they leave children’s services. Shared Lives has brought a sense of home and community, where I feel safe. A family that will always be part of my life even when I am in my own house.”

- Shared Lives Ambassador, Heather Thomson

Nearly every local area has a Shared Lives scheme and more than half of local areas in England have chosen to invest in it as a social care service, thanks to recent £20m funding from Department of Health and Social care.

The programme, funded by The Rayne Foundation and Segalman Trust, will help local authorities adapt existing services, specifically for young people, through recruiting and training Shared Lives carers, co-producing the service design with young people, using a trauma informed approach and developing ways to provide wrap around support for young people and their Shared Lives carers, through local partnerships.

Over 45 people took part in the launch event which involved presentations from people leading innovative work in supporting care experienced people through Shared Lives, shared good practice and started to shape the programme.  

The following local areas will be involved:

  • Birmingham
  • Bury – Persona Shared Lives
  • Borders Council (Scotland)
  • London Borough of Hackney
  • Herefordshire
  • London Borough of Hounslow
  • London Borough of Islington
  • Newcastle City Council  ​
  • North East Lincolnshire / North Lincolnshire
  • Oldham Council
  • Telford & Wrekin
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Portsmouth City Council
  • Powys (Wales)
  • West Northamptonshire
  • Wirral
  • Worcestershire

Shared Lives Carers, who come from a range of backgrounds, and are self-employed in a similar way to foster carers, are carefully matched with their guests and encouraged to help them develop practical skills, build self-esteem and establish new friendships and social networks in their own neighbourhood, which creates a sense of belonging and community. Training and a support network are provided to all Shared Lives carers.

To become a Shared Lives carer, you must be over 18 years of age and don’t need specific qualifications, just the right values, commitment and of course, a spare bedroom.

To find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer, go to

For more information about the programme, visit:

For more information or interviews please contact Phoebe Barber-Rowell, Head of Communications or our communications team on