You’ll never walk alone

As lockdown starts to ease, our members continue to be under pressure like never before and so we wanted to share with you signs of hope and inspiration for our communities after a wonderful week of celebrating Shared Lives carers.

Knowing that we couldn’t meet up in “real life” this year, we made as big a noise online as possible about their Shared Lives carers’ magnificent achievements. We campaigned for their income to be covered for those that have lost income due to lockdown cancelling day support or short breaks and recognition that Shared Lives care is not a 24/7 service for those that open their homes long-term. We released new independent research which shows there is wide appetite for shared living and Shared Lives households met with one of our strongest political supportersSign up to my not-so regular newsletters

  • Community celebrations across the UK
  • New research shows appetite for shared living
  • Shared Lives carers meet Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care

At a time when connecting with others has never been as difficult, or as important, we were so proud to show our network walking on through the storm in the premiere of a special film already seen by thousands. If you’ve not seen it yet, let your spirits be lifted and treat yourself to four minutes of pure joy.

Community celebrations around the UK
Across the network, schemes and Shared Lives families got together to celebrate in virtual tea parties, using new skills from our social media training sessions. It was great to see the momentum all over the country – silly hats in the West Midlands with CVT, a beautiful chorus of voices singing “You’ve got a friend in me” in Surrey, handmade cakes in Stoke,  visiting carers with gifts in Bury, bingo and quizzes in Ayrshire – to name just a few.

Kirklees shared a hand-written note from a person supported in Shared Lives which everyone loved, probably because it talked about feeling “more grown-up” rather than “building independence” in professional jargon. Shared Lives Hertfordshire created fantastic, polished videos introducing Shared Lives matches in a warm, intimate and informative way – like Michael and Linda’s story. Linda’s not very good at the Wii, but she’s fun and has changed Michael’s life so that he “doesn’t feel alone anymore.”

Our own social media performance saw a huge spike in engagement – over 1000% increase on Facebook and Twitter- which was a timely boost given our recent research which told us that nearly 70% of people haven’t heard of Shared Lives and Homeshare.

New research shows appetite for shared living

New research by Survation, of 1000 people, also showed that there is appetite for shared living – 65% of people would prefer to share their homes with someone of similar interests to them, and 37% of people who live alone would consider sharing their homes with someone of similar interests, once coronavirus has been fully addressed.

Over half of the respondents to the poll felt that the government hadn’t done enough to address the issue of loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are proud that Shared Lives and Homeshare are still open for business and are helping to combat isolation. We call on government to help the people who want to live together for mutual support to reach the solutions that already exist and recognise that home is one of the safest places to be, especially with someone who’s always looking out for you.

Shared Lives carers meeting with Shadow Minister for Social care
We’ve been working hard to promote shared living across the political spectrum, and we were delighted to meet up with the Shadow Minister for Social Care, Liz Kendall MP, and Shared Lives households (pictured above), to share the experiences of real Shared Lives with her. We’ve also invited the Minister of Social Care to meet with Shared Lives carers and working with DHSC, LGA and ADASS on PPE, pay and restarting day support/short breaks.

Kendall is a long-standing supporter of Shared Lives and said that the Zoom session was “the most uplifting conversation I’ve had during this crisis.” She will help us to press the government on issues such as PPE, respite and day services re-opening, and in the long term supports our vision of a different way of living with and looking after each other.

Last week I wrote about how the conspicuous resilience of the shared living network should point the way for a re-designed, post-Covid social care system. Shared Lives week showed that the relationships in our network, both in individual matches and the solidarity across our sector, are strong enough to overcome the enforced physical distance we face as we try to overcome the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

Thank you to all the Shared Lives families and workers who came to show how strong we are together and that, once you’re a part of the world of shared living – you’ll never walk alone.

If you’ve not already, do keep in touch and sign up to my not-so regular newsletters

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