Shared Lives Stories

Our stories

Shared Lives is for everyone to feel a sense of belonging, be valued as part of a family and have the opportunity to be actively involved with the wider community and local neighbourhood. We are pleased to celebrate some of the amazing people we support in our Shared Lives scheme and our fantastic Shared Lives Carers.

Meet Sean

Sean has lived with Diane and David for 8 years, and this year met with our Trust Life of Opportunity reviewers to hear his story.

From Foster Care to Shared Lives, Diane and David have supported Sean to fully live his life of opportunity. It’s a challenge getting to meet Sean with his jam packed diary, but his routine and structure have been developed through Sean’s determination to find paid work. From voluntary work for friends and neighbours, completing tasks such as cutting hedges, fencing and gardening, to litter picking around the neighbourhood, Sean like to be busy. Using his skills and with support from his Shared Lives Carers and Wolverhampton Supported Employment Team, Sean applied for work as a Street Cleaner and has been successful in securing a paid role for 12 hours per week.

Sean has also started a new college course during 2023 and attends 2 and a half days a week to study life skills such as gardening, cooking, plumbing etc. Growing in confidence and independence, Sean gets the bus independently to and from college and work, developing new friendships within these different settings.

Diane and David encourage Sean to put these skills to good use at home, and he now will do his own laundry with some support and can tidy and polish his bedroom with some prompting!

Sports and exercise are really important to Sean, and around his college and work, Sean finds time to attend weekly sessions of football for Wolves Foundation Team, cricket with a local group for adults with learning disabilities, along with walking the dogs, going out on his bike, and spending time with the family!

Here is Sean with a recent a medal from a football competition with his 7-a-side team!

Sean from Shared Lives west midlands

Going on holiday has been a key part of Sean’s life with his Shared Lives Carers, and they all had a great time during a recent holiday to the Lake District, taking part in many activities and excursions. Sean even got to drive a boat!

Meet Max

Max speaks out at Social Work team meeting to share his lived experience.
In April 2024 Max stepped outside his comfort zone and joined Shared Lives to talk to a group of Mental Health Social Work Practitioners during their annual away day, enabling them to really understand the benefits of living as part of a Shared Lives household.
Max has lived with his current carers Matt and Jean since 2016 when he moved in with them as a foster child aged 12. When Max turned 18, the local authority referred to Camphill Village Trust Shared Lives, to enable him to remain in his home, with the additional support from the Shared Lives scheme. Max and his Shared Lives Carers have formed a trusting relationship and together with the circle of support of Matt and Jean’s extended family, this arrangement provides Max with stability and structure.  
Max experiences mental ill health and receives ongoing specialist support from his local mental health service. The addition of the Shared Lives model of care enables Max to live his own life, as part of a family, whilst benefitting from the support from his carers whenever he needs it; whether this is a listening ear, when he is struggling with his mental health and needs to talk, or practical support, to motivate and encourage him to attend health appointments, look for employment opportunities and advocate for him so that he can achieve what he deserves in life.
In a response to questions from the Scheme about his experience, Max shared an insight into his life and the support he receives from his Shared Lives Carers:
How did you feel about turning 18, and moving from foster care to Shared lives? 
Fearful. I don’t think I ever planned as far as 18 so when it finally happened it was strange, confusing and I was scared. The difference in being slightly older meant so many things that I wasn’t quite prepared for – one of these being transitioning from Forster care to Shared lives. 
Uncomfortable… but all change is for me. It was a new experience for myself and my foster parents however despite the struggles and challenges it worked out in the end. 
Did it matter to you what the label was around your support?
No – labels are just another way to single someone into a particular group. To me the support I get is just that, it’s support. Haphazardly, adding a label can make it invalidating and particularly for me feel like how I was in foster care – another child in unfortunate circumstances. People are particular and unique and shouldn’t be defined to a label. 
What works about living in a family? 
The dynamics – I love being able to take part in what Matt and Jean are doing whether it’s walking the dog or just watching a film. It’s nice to feel a sense of belonging with people who genuinely care. I have support almost always and I’ve never once thought that Matt wouldn’t be able to help, even when a situation is complicated, or he doesn’t quite understand he still shows sympathy and listens offering whatever support he can. 
What would you change?
I have a good relationship with my foster parents however, I would like to be closer with Jean. She’s a lot different to Matt but still just as important. Sometimes in families there are struggles and you may not always see eye to eye, but now I’m older, Jean has a good sense of insight and perspective, so I would want to build a stronger relationship with her.
What opportunities do you think you have now that you may not have had if Matt and Jean weren’t in your life?
Almost everything I have now I don’t think I would have if it weren’t for Matt and Jean in some way or another – I understand that mental health can be debilitating and comes down to the individual to get better, taking time and effort but support is incredibly crucial for recovery. Matt and Jean have been my support since I was 12 and as I got older I learnt how to trust them and know that they genuinely cared. A lot of things I have achieved wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the support of my foster parents and family. I owe everything to them. 
Sam Price, Care and Support Manager, and Max’s allocated Coordinator notes “since living with Matt and Jean, Max has had the security of a loving family and the opportunity to go on family holidays and enjoy family celebrations, whilst also becoming more independent and confident in his abilities. Max is extremely intelligent and is a gifted artist and with support of his Shared Lives Carers, he has successfully completed a Level 3 BTEC in Art and Design in 2023 securing an unconditional offer at Hereford University.  He also plays the guitar and has aspirations to obtain his motorbike licence. Max knows that he has the full support of his carers who are committed to promoting his wellbeing.  He is a caring individual who has real insight into his mental health challenges. It’s a pleasure to work alongside Max who bravely spoke so effortlessly and articulately in front of a room full of strangers and I have no doubt that Max will continue to thrive and be successful.”
The Mental Health Team Managers were keen to invite Max along with Sam to promote the service amongst the front-line Social Workers and have an open conversation about the benefits of the model, recognising that more adults with mental ill health could benefit from family support, whether that be day support, respite breaks or longer term/transitional arrangements.
Shared Lives west midlands

Meet Dennis

Dennis has lived with Lynne and Ian for 39 years and this year celebrated his milestone 80th birthday. 

Aged just 41 Dennis was matched to Shared Lives Carers Lynne and Ian Craig in 1985, in what was then known as Adult Placement. Supporting Dennis as part of their family, Dennis has enjoyed almost 4 decades living and growing with the couples’ own children, watching them have their own families, celebrating many special occasions, events, births and birthdays. 

Dennis has a close relationship with all the family, and knowing what a huge fan of Stourbridge Football Club and the Stourbridge Glassboys Dennis has been for all his life, Lynne and Ian’s daughter Lucie, and her partner Ozz arranged for the whole family to attend a match. Already having been presented with a shirt signed by all the players, Dennis was able to re-connect with old friends, and share his birthday cake amongst the fans as they cheered and chanted ‘Happy Birthday’! 

Dennis has now made the decision to move on from Shared Lives and Lynne and Ian’s home, recognising his own increasing care needs are becoming less manageable in a family environment. 

Dennis, a man of few words, comments 

“It has been lovely living with Lynne and Ian! I like all the family!”   

Lynne and Ian have spent the best part of 40 years supporting Dennis, Chris and David as part of their family. 

Ian says: “It has been a slow and steady voyage of discovery, to understand the needs of the people we support, and we have been very lucky to share our lives with Dennis, Chris and David.” 

Commenting on the future, Lynne notes: “Dennis is really excited about this new chapter in his life, as we all are, and even though Dennis will not live with us any longer, we will also be part of his life, and look forward to seeing him settled and well in his new home.” 

Lynne and Ian were nominated for the Carer of the Year award at last year’s West Midland Care Association Excellence in Care Awards. Although they did not bag the main prize, they are certainly winners in our eyes for their long and dedicated career in Social Care. 

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Shared Lives Stories