Shared Lives – could you make a difference

Shared Lives - Lisa with her shared lives family

Want to make a difference?

If you already raise money for charity or volunteer in your community you will know how rewarding it is to help others. However if you are considering making a difference by taking a more personal approach and are willing to open up your life and home to someone who needs your friendship and support – this article is for you!

Become a Shared Lives Carer

Could you offer an adult with a disability a short break in your home? It could be anything from a weekend or a couple of weeks to a full time placement.

The Shared Lives scheme gives adults with additional needs new experiences and opportunities, as well as the opportunity to gain more independence for the future.

The Shared Lives scheme recruits carers from across Kirklees who can offer support and accommodation in their own home for vulnerable adults. Experienced staff ensure that suitable matches are made between carers and those needing care, so that the experience is a positive one for everyone involved.

Shared Lives - Lisa with her shared lives family

Helen and Mark’s Story

Helen and her husband Mark decided to share their home and become Shared Lives Carers. 36 year old Lisa has lived with Helen, Mark and their five young children for nearly two years.

Helen said:

“We’re busy parents, juggling work, home, children, and all that comes with it, as do many other people. But choosing to be a shared lives carer meant that I could stay at home with the children and support Lisa”.

Mark said:

“Being brutally honest we were very concerned about the dynamics of all the little relationships in our home when Lisa moved in. Although we’d all collectively made the decision to be shared lives carers ‘as a family’, we were desperate for it all to go smoothly for everyone. It did, and still does.”

What it means for Lisa

Providing an adult with a home or a place to stay on a regular basis helps them to develop rewarding relationships, learn new skills and develop as a person.

Dawn and Jeanette from Shared Lives said:

“We can see that Lisa has become more independent and considers others since her time with Helen and Mark. After living in such a busy household with young children Lisa is better at helping others and has come out of her shell following her experience living in this family home – it’s great to see.”

Lisa said:

“Even though it’s a busy house I like it. If it’s too quiet I get bored. My favourite thing is the trampoline, especially when I’m playing on it with the girls.

“We have a disco in the lounge and everybody dances. It’s good. I like my bedroom because the doors go into the garden. We go on lots of walks which I like.”

Lisa’s parents Linda and John said:

“We found the right family and it works really well. Our daughter is happy and we now have quality time with her and quality time for ourselves”.

What do the children think?

Bringing someone else into the family home is a big decision but if everyone is on board it can also be very rewarding. For Seth 2, Bridget 4, Zara 9, Harrison 11 and Sophie 12 Lisa is like a big sister and they generally love her like part of the family.

Bridget said:

“Lisa lives at my house and she is cuddly and she is happy. We love Lisa”

Zara likes how Lisa helps her out with things:

“Lisa is so good at arts and crafts – she shows us how to do fiddly things with loom bands and bracelet making.”

Harrison said:

“Lisa comes in the garden and on the trampoline with us. She’s got her own friends but when we’re all in she’s just one of us in the family.”

Sophie explained why Lisa fits in so well:

“Lisa likes the same things as us. She comes swimming, walking, eating out and to the cinema with us and it’s just normal.”

Helen said:

“We’re really pleased that our children have this experience to help and support people like Lisa. We think it’s helping to make our children into brilliant caring adults and they’re developing important skills.

Mark said:

“The Kirklees Shared Lives team are obviously extremely skilled to have matched Lisa to our family. It works really well”

Could you be a shared Lives carer?

Being a Shared Lives carer is incredibly rewarding and no experience is necessary – you just need to care. The team behind the unique scheme are urging people to open up their homes and make a positive difference to other people’s lives.

Training support and an allowance are all provided.

If you’d like to find out more about being a Shared Lives Carer on a long or short term basis call 01484 221000 and ask for ‘Shared Lives’.

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