Welsh Assembly Shadow Social Service Spokesperson, Suzy Davies, found out first-hand this week about the fantastic support Shared Lives is providing in her constituency. Suzy, who is AM for South West Wales, met 72-year-old Vernon in the Swansea home he’s shared with Shared Lives carer Margaret Millson for 16 years.
Vernon, who will soon be celebrating his 73rd birthday, lives an active life in the community with support from Margaret and her partner Eddie. He works in his local supermarket for a few hours a week, and gets out and about regularly thanks to his free bus pass. Vernon was taken into care aged just two and was looked after by Nuns in Swansea until the late 1990s, when he moved to a residential home. The move didn’t suit him at all and he didn’t thrive there, so Swansea social services suggested Shared Lives. Vernon hasn’t looked back!
Over coffee and biscuits he told Ms Davies, an active campaigner for stronger communities, all about Shared Lives and what the service meant to him. But they discovered they shared another passion – a love of the city of Swansea. Ms Davies grew up there and it wasn’t long before the two were happily sharing reminiscences and talking about all the changes they’ve seen over the years!
The visit was a real eye-opener for Ms Davies, and she was able to see first-hand how Shared Lives helps people live active, fulfilling lives in the heart of their communities. She also got an insight into what makes a Shared Lives carer.
Margaret along with her partner Eddie have been Shared Lives carers for around 18 years now, supporting Vernon since 2001. Margaret had worked as an Auxiliary Nurse before moving to Swansea and becoming a Shared Lives carer. Along with Vernon, she’s also provided long-term support and short-breaks to other people who need just a little help to stay independent and active.
The visit was organised as part of Wales Shared Lives Development Team’s work connecting Shared Lives carers and the people they support to local politicians. The aim is to make sure politicians see first-hand the great work Shared Lives is doing in their constituency.