AN INVALUABLE service that transforms the lives of members of the community is being championed.
Shared Lives allows those who need support or a place to live in the UK to move in with, or benefit from, regular visits with an approved carer – after they have bonded.
Emily, from Portsmouth, has been a Shared Lives carer for seven years, inspired after seeing the difference two family members made in the same role.
She provides day support for Jo, from Southsea, who was diagnosed with autism in 2015 and finds it hard to talk to people and go to new places alone.
Jo was reliant on her parents and felt very isolated before her social worker referred her to the Shared Lives scheme.
Emily has been visiting Jo for two years and said: ‘The change in Jo has been amazing to watch – she’s more confident and bubbly now.
‘Being a Shared Lives carer is so rewarding when you see people’s attitude and personality change because of something you’ve done.
‘A Shared Lives carer helps people keep their independence.’
Jo has been receiving weekly visits from Emily, who has also opened her home to a gentleman who has lived with her for more than six years.
Typically the pair go shopping, to the cinema, out for coffee or lunch, or sometimes chat, relax and watch films together.
Emily also supports Jo with her paperwork, picking up her prescriptions and accompanying her to any appointments she might have.
Carers can earn between £290 and £400 per week. Some continue to work and others make it their full time occupation.
Being part of Shared Lives has made a difference to Jo’s world. She said: ‘Emily is like my big sister and I have someone I can speak to and trust.’
Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for health, wellbeing and social care said the service allows people who need help to remain in the community.
Councillor Matthew Winnington explained: The Shared Lives programme is invaluable, offering a community-based service for our residents who benefit from a bit of extra support.
‘It allows people to retain their independence whilst receiving the care they need to stay in the community.’