This year’s Shared Lives Plus conference was co-chaired by Paul Croft, who lives in a Shared Lives household and Richard Jones, a Director of Adult Services and one of our trustees. This is what Paul told the conference – he has kindly given me permission to re-print it here:
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I would just like to say how pleased I am to be here and would like to thank John Dickinson for asking me to Chair this conference. I think it is a great honour and am delighted to be talking to you now.
I would like to tell you just a little bit about myself and how my life has changed since I joined Shared Lives and moved to Waterloo, just a few miles from here, to live with Geoff my carer with PSS and Bob who Geoff also cares for.
I was at Derwen College in Shropshire at the time and lived there in term time studying catering and office management. At first I went to Geoff’s in the holidays. I really enjoyed being at college but we were supervised most of the time and had very little independence.
When I first went to stay with Geoff my care plan said that I wasn’t allowed to access the community without someone being with me. I remember wishing I could be like Bob, who was a train driver before his brain injury and would go off regularly visiting places round the country. At that time I even had to be taken to college at the end of holidays even though I had made the journey many times.
Geoff realised that my life was being restricted because of this and so we started to work on this problem.
I began by posting letters at the end of our street and then going to the shops and bank on my own. We went out together on longer journeys but when I felt ready we decided that it was time to go on the train on my own. The station is only 5 minutes from where we live. I have a very good sense of direction and had no problem going places on the train and also learned to use the bus. Geoff and I have discussed this and both feel this was the real turning point in my life.
When I moved into Geoff’s permanently after leaving Derwen I enrolled at a local college and succeeded in getting an NVQ level 2 in Catering. I have since successfully completed courses with Barnardo’s St Helen’s College and I am now spending two days a week on an ASDAN level 3 course with Barnardo’s.
I have much to thank Barnardo’s for as while I was on a previous course with them my work experience placement led to a part time paid job at Halfords. Besides providing me with extra money it gives me a good feeling inside knowing I can do a paid job.
I have lots of interests. I love to socialise and have joined a number of clubs. I enjoy most sports but I love going to the races. Chester is my favourite track. I have been camping over the last few summers and just over three months ago I met Kimberley who has been my girlfriend since then.
I am very happy in my Shared Lives placement and see this as a brilliant way of learning how to become independent. Eventually I would like to have my own house or flat.
I would just like to finish by thanking you all for listening. I hope that you all have a worthwhile and enjoyable Conference.”