Shared Lives Plus

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Our story

The idea of Shared Lives has been around for centuries.

You can trace it back to the 14th century when people in a city in Belgium decided that people with mental ill health should live in the community instead of an asylum. In the UK it’s been going since the 1970s – many local Shared Lives schemes have been going for 40 years – on a small scale. But over the last five years has grown by 30%.

Sue Newton, from an organisation called PSS started us as what became the UK network of Shared Lives schemes in 1992 – back when they were called adult placement schemes. Here’s a blurb from their website, which reflects what was happening in pockets around the UK:

“1978: When the government started closing down old ‘institutions’ for mental health patients, lots of older people had nowhere to go. Originally called (wait for it) ‘Adopt a Granny’, Shared Lives meant that instead of getting passed to another institution, these people could go and be supported in a homely environment by a carer and their family.

1984: PSS Care in the Community Scheme was created to support people with mental health difficulties in their communities – going against the general idea of the time that people with mental health difficulties should be institutionalised. This inspired and influenced this way of working in other areas of the country.”

The start of a UK network

Sue Newton, who started PSS’ scheme in Liverpool, gathered all the schemes in the UK together to set up the National Association of Adult Placement Services in 1992.

Sian was elected Chair of NAAPS UK (now Shared Lives Plus) in 2002.

In 2010, with the leadership of Sian Lockwood (2002 – 2010), we became Shared Lives Plus, reflecting the mutually chosen relationships that are at the heart of each shared life.

In this role Sian worked closely with UK governments to promote the value of very small localised services, and ensured that legislative and regulatory requirements were appropriate and did not place unnecessary barriers in the way of people establishing and delivering local small scale enterprises. She continued and extended this work when she was appointed as the charity’s first Chief Executive in July 2004 and was instrumental in securing recognition by central and local government of the important of micro social care and health services to the successful transformation of adult social care.

Why our plus?

The plus is a vital ingredient to communicate the momentum of our network when we share together, it includes all the extra support our members offer people – often in unseen and unthanked ways, and the amazing lives people enjoy when they mutually choose to share life together. The plus is all the extra benefits and support that we offer to members, and that we now include Homeshare UK network, becoming the leading voice of shared living in the UK.