Meg spoke to MPs at our parliamentary reception about her experience of Shared Lives. She wants you to hear her story.
Hello, my name is Meg and I’d like you to take a moment. Think of something you deeply regret.
Think of a time where you’ve behaved inappropriately or something cringey you did when you were drunk…
Now think of those words you’ve cursed in rage when someone cut you up at the junction.
Now imagine if all of these things were:
Now most of us in this room look like trouble, a risk.
Remember, there’s nothing about how you work yourself into the ground five day a week to support your family.
Nothing about you caring for your elderly grandmother.
And there’s nothing about how you tracked down that stranger to return his wallet. Because you’re not a person, you’re a case.
For 13 years of my childhood, I endured severe trauma in all domains. As a result of this, I have spent most of my life in psychiatric hospitals due to my fragile state of mind and the severity of the harm I was inflicting upon myself.
My last hospital admission lasted four and a half years where I worked my hardest in therapy, processed the traumas and came to terms with my past. I found hope and I became strong. It was time to leave hospital but no-one knew where was the best for me to go. I knew I needed to feel part of something and to be genuinely cared for, away from a clinical setting.
After many weeks of searching, I found out about Shared Lives. I took the information to my doctor and she agreed it was perfect. Before long I was matched and placed with my Shared Lives carer named Hayley.
I didn’t know how to live in the community as an adult. I was so scared.
But Hayley taught me how to cook and supported me to shop. She sharpened my road sense and showed me how to get around on public transport by myself. As well as all of this, she stood strong by my side, through my mood swing, my tears and frustration. We got through it. She’s my angel.
It’s been 22 months since I left hospital and moved into Hayley’s care and I have achieved so much.
I work in a dog grooming salon three times a week. I run a self harm support group in my town. I’ve been on adventures and made new friends. And in January this year, I moved into my own house independently and just receive day time support. Also it has been 14 months two weeks and six days since I last self-harmed.
Shared Lives saved my life.
More people need this chance. We need to see them as people with a future, instead of a risk. Or a case study.
I’m just trying to say that we need to give more people a chance of happiness, like the happiness that Shared Lives gave to me.