“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Louise Kennedy, and along with my husband Andrew, I have been involved with Shared Lives since 2005,that of course was in the days where we were under the Adult Placement Scheme, and at that time, we did respite care, which we found very rewarding.
However, in 2009 our lives changed forever when we were given the opportunity of having a young lady come to live with us on a permanent basis. The young lady in question was our wonderful Abby. There were no slow and gradual introductions, as is usually the case. Abby arrived like tornado in our lives. The only way I can describe it is ‘falling into each other’. My husband and I have never been parents, and all of a sudden, we had a lively 19-year-old exploding into our lives. Something clicked straight away, and the three of us have never looked back.
I’m not going to pretend we’re The Waltons, we’re three strong personalities sharing a home, and of course there’s going to be bumps along the way, but these are part of family life, and we’re very much a family. Abby is unique and meeting her is a once in a lifetime experience! She makes an impact on all those that she meets. To know her is to love her.
I recall a time when we were out walking our dogs. I’d nipped into our local toilets to use the loo, and I could hear Abby talking to someone. The next thing I heard was Abby saying, ‘so tell me, do you enjoy being a nun?’ I didn’t know whether to hide in the toilets or not! However, I joined Abby, just in time to hear her telling the two nuns how much she’d enjoyed the film ‘Sister Act’. I managed to introduce myself, but the two nuns were too enthralled by Abby that they barely noticed me. By the end of her conversation, Abby had the two nuns singing a ‘rap’ version of a hymn and giggling their heads off. It’s part of the joy and beauty of Abby that she can talk to anyone whatever their status in life.
It’s not just us who teach Abby life skills, she teaches us every day, and we are enriched to have her in our lives. She is very much part of our family and is a vital part of family gatherings. We live in a small, close knit community and all the locals know Abby and look out for her. This enables Abby to have freedom without us constantly breathing down her neck. Abby enjoys socialising with her friends at the local pubs, and we can relax, knowing she’s with her peers.
Shared Lives is very enriching and rewarding, it’s not a job, it’s a way of life. I would say to anyone considering being a Shared Lives Carer, do it, take the leap, your whole life will change beyond recognition, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gillian, Anne and in particular Louise from our scheme, for their never-ending support. I have nothing but praise for Louise, and she certainly makes our role a lot easier, she’s a cracking lady.
Thank you for listening to me tonight.”
Hi my name is Archie, my wife Christine, and I are both Shared Lives’ carers. Christine is the primary carer and tonight I would like to share some of our experiences as Shared Lives carers. Just over 5 years ago we heard about Shared Lives through a charity called Cornerstone and for us it seemed the right thing for us.
Having the time and the space allowed us to open our lives and our home to offer those who not only needed support but a safe, loving, caring and nurturing environment to help find fulfilment and happiness in their lives, just to be like everyone else. Being a Shared Lives carer is not for everyone, but there are many others out there who would make excellent Shared Lives’ carers.
We have two young women who live with us and come from similar backgrounds, yet the effects of which have had very different impacts on their individual lives. Nothing prepares you for the changes that take place in home life as the dynamics of these new relationships take time to settle in. We quickly realised that this was a journey of discovery and that we needed to work together to achieve a harmonious family life.
We adopted a teamwork approach, our motto being `Teamwork always works’. It sure works for Christine and the girls as I have three ladies telling me what to do. Driving in the car I not only have the `sat nav’ telling me where to go there are now three other voices giving directions. I wouldn’t have it any other way, because they have enriched our lives and that of our family. It opens up your eyes to people with a learning disability what they have to face just to get by each day, especially without the love and support of a caring and understanding family.
We have also found new friends and support through the other Shared Lives carers and never have we felt alone in the journey through them, Cornerstone and Social Work who have been right there with us.
Support is one thing but unconditional love is where we all thrive. Unconditional love is if you like the x factor in what Shared Lives offers to those we care for, giving them the opportunity to reach whatever potential they are able to achieve, and it also challenges us to see life from their perspective.
To give you an example of this: We have seen two young women slowly change from just travelling the system to finding a place where they belong and integration into normal family. Life. It gives them the confidence to try new experiences in a positive way, rather than the frustrations that come through being unable to cope. Shared Lives gives them a safe nurturing environment where they can learn from their mistakes just as we did growing up in a family home and also where possible to heal some of the hurt that life has inflicted on them. To quote from a well-known song, sung by Michael Ball `Love Changes Everything’.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Abby, I am 28 years old and I was born In Liverpool, my home life was unstable and I slept on peoples sofas, when I was 17 my auntie who lived in Scotland came and asked me to move in with her on the understanding that it’s going to be a short term arrangement, that’s when the social worker said there was a couple in Dunbar that were Shared Lives carers that would like someone to stay with them long-term.
“I have lived with Louise and Andrew for 9 years; it has changed my life forever by giving me stability, direction and hope for the future as before I didn’t have anybody and I had to fend for myself and I had no hope for my future and now I have been to college and I volunteer at a radio station and I also work in a local shop and am part of a gardening group.
“They are so kind and the best mum and dad that I could ask for and we have a Labradoodle called Albert who is like a brother to me and he is amazing.”
We are delighted to be able to share our executive summary report about the incredible growth of Shared Lives in Scotland over the last year.
The report provides a statistical breakdown of the number of Shared Lives carers and people being supported, as well as information about the demographics of support needs and different types of Shared Lives arrangements.
Shared Lives Plus have published a new report into developing the Shared Lives model in Scotland. The report is based on the findings of a number of seminars bringing together people who are involved in Shared Lives and has a foreword by Sandly Riddell, Shared Lives champion, and Director of Social Care in Fife.
You can download the full report Scotland_Shared_Lives_report_2016_002.pdf