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Durham Shared Lives First Annual Ball

Adults whose lives have been transformed through a support scheme are encouraging County Durham residents to sign up to help others.

Fifty-one-year-old Fiona Jack, Stuart Harper aged 43 and 36-year-old Emma Routledge were among those who attended a ball celebrating Shared Lives, a scheme which supports people to live meaningful lives, independent lives through personalised, affordable care.

Shared Lives Carers open their home and family life to an adult or young person, aged over 16, who needs help to live well, supporting them to live as part of the community.

Fiona and Emma, who sit on the scheme’s approval panel, helping to assess prospective carers, took the opportunity to explain the positive impact Shared Lives has had on their lives.

Fiona said: “My Shared Lives carers, Karen and Stephen, are like a second family. I have been living with them for four years. They helped me when I was going through a bad time. They helped me to get where I wanted to be. I am very happy living with them.”

Emma added: “My carers are amazing. They support me when I want something doing. I go on holiday with them, I go out for lunch with them. I get on with everyone in the house. I couldn’t have asked for better carers.”

“Helping me to be happy”

Stuart Harper, aged 43, who also lives in a Shared Lives placement and attended the ball, said: “I had a great time at the ball. My carers help me to go out to all my activities and to meet my friends. Shared Lives helps me to be independent and have a voice. I have a very busy life with the help of my carers, Shared Lives are helping me to be happy.”

Karen Ingram, who is a Shared Lives carer along with her husband Stephen, said: “Shared Lives provides a wonderful platform to allow individuals to grow and develop their independence using a person-centred approach. It allows the individual to meet their dreams and inspirations and be part of society as a whole.”

A rewarding career

The scheme’s registered manager, Alison Urwin, said: “We’ve seen an increase in applications from people who want to become Shared Lives carers over the last few years, but we still need to recruit new carers to meet growing demand in County Durham. Shared Lives offers a really rewarding career.”

Shared Lives welcomes those who can provide a caring, safe and comfortable home. Applicants are welcome whatever their age, race, gender, marital status or sexual orientation.