Spread the love

Carer  holding hands

To celebrate Shared Lives Week (24 – 28 June) carers in Gloucestershire are hoping to inspire others to provide a home and family to someone with care and support needs, helping them to make the most of life.

Shared Lives Week is an annual flagship campaign to celebrate the best of Shared Lives, where an adult aged 18 and over with care and support needs can be supported for a few hours, a few days, or live on a long-term basis with a Shared Lives Carer, in their home as part of their family.

Shared Lives is a bespoke alternative to residential care offering support in a family-based environment with everything from accessing leisure activities, employment and voluntary opportunities, to helping with everyday tasks and more specialist skills. It can sometimes mean that young people with support needs who grow up in foster care, can stay with the same family once they become adults.

The theme for Shared Lives Week 2024 is #WeAreSharedLives which aims to celebrate the amazing work of Shared Lives. Carers from Gloucestershire feature in a new short film to share their stories and inspire others to find out more.

Chloe Carter lives with Shared Lives Carers Sally and Tony Cooper who provide her with a safe, secure, and loving home. Sally says: “It’s about letting her grow as an adult to make her own choices, giving her the chance to feel confident in those choices, with the security of us.”

She believes their Shared Lives arrangement has made a huge difference to Chloe saying: “I believe that to Chloe it was a great relief to know that this, as she says, can be forever and ever and ever. And just to know that in your own mind, that this is where I belong, this is where I can stay, and until I’m ready to do anything different that’s cool. As a human being, to know that you’re safe, happy, secure, loved – you can’t put a price on that.”

Nicky Cassin is a Shared Lives short-break carer who gives supported individuals and their main carers a break, which could be anything from 24 hours to two weeks. Nicky says: “For our young people who have special needs or disability, they need more services so Shared Lives is set up so they can have somewhere to go at 18, and they could stay with that carer. I’m not retiring, so as long as Chloe lives with Sally and Tony, I can provide her respite, so that will give them continuity.”

Chloe really enjoys spending weekends at Nicky’s home with her friends. Nicky says: “It gives Chloe the opportunity to do more adult things with my young ladies and I’ve just loved watching Chloe grow, it’s been lovely seeing the progression.”

Judy Bailey is a Shared Lives Carer who also does community outreach which is designed to increase a person’s independence and support them to take part in activities they enjoy, building skills such as shopping, cooking, craft, or social skills. She says: “The most rewarding thing is to see a person fulfilled and happy.”

To become a Shared Lives Carer, all you need is a passion for caring and a desire to make positive changes to someone life by sharing your life with them. Shared Lives Carers receive full training and ongoing support. No previous experience or skills are required, and the county council offers competitive rates to fit around any other commitments in your life.

If you would like to speak to the Shared Lives team, they are holding a Coffee morning at the Farmers Club in Gloucester on Tuesday 25 June from 11am till 1pm.

Sarah Scott, executive director of adult social care, wellbeing and communities at Gloucestershire County Council said: “Shared Lives Carers make a massive difference to the lives of the people they support, helping them to make the most of life and do activities they enjoy, whilst staying in a family home environment.

“If you would like to find out more about becoming a Shared Lives Carer, whether that is providing someone with a full time home living with you, spending short breaks with you, or supporting people to enjoy activities as part of their local community, we would love to chat to you.

“All you need is a passion for caring and a desire to help change someone’s life, by sharing your life with them.”

If you would like to know more, please get in touch on 01452 426237, or visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/shared-lives