A Shared Life is a Healthy Life

It’s been a busy Shared Lives week, with local Shared Lives schemes holding events all over the country. The highlight for us was our parliamentary reception, hosted by former charities Minister, Nick Hurd MP, at which Luciana Berger MP (Shadow Mental Health Minister) also spoke, along with Cllr Richard Kemp (LGA Lib Dem Spokesperson on Health and Social Care), Chief Inspector of Social Care Andrea Sutcliffe and two of our new Ambassadors, Dipan and Paul. We launched this new report on the impact of Shared Lives on people’s health, with a foreword by NHSE CEO, Simon Stevens and a new short film on the same subject, featuring Pauline, Joe, Karen and Robert, who spoke afterwards about what Shared Lives means to them.

Sally Percival, a parent and co-Chair of Think Local, Act Personal, who was one of a number of TLAP colleagues at the event, said:

Talking to the Shared Lives carers and even more importantly listening to the people who live in Shared Lives homes share their positive stories of happiness, fun and personal growth made me believe that as precious as my children are, this is the type of home-from-home living that we would consider right for them. That has never happened before and gives me hope for the future. Before learning about Shared Lives, I just assumed they would be living with us forever and that’s really not healthy for any of us.

It’s hard to know what good is when you have not had it

We held our first ever parliamentary event this week. Our host was Liz Kendall MP, the Shadow Care Minister, who made the Shared Lives carers and people using Shared Lives feel at home and spoke passionately about her support for Shared Lives carers in Leicester and nationally. Liz said, ‘I urge all MPs to investigate Shared Lives in your area and make a difference locally. This is about love, chance, family and choices. The things we all want.’ Care Minister Norman Lamb also spoke passionately about how Shared Lives can change lives and talked about how struck he was when he came into office by the ‘stark contrast’ between the Shared Lives he saw in action and institutional approaches, which had gone so terribly wrong at the Winterbourne View special hospital shortly before he took up his post. Nick Hurd MP, a previous Minister for Civil Society at the Cabinet Office, kicked off the event and introduced our new Shared Lives film, which was originally commissioned by the Cabinet Office and charity, Nesta, for their Centre for Social Action. You can watch it here: http://vimeo.com/108993357

16 MPs came to support us and meet their constituents who were involved in Shared Lives, which was great to see, but the highlight for everyone was hearing from Joanne, Ayeesha and Clare, three talented young women who live with Shared Lives carers Graham and Lorna in a household featured in the film. Clare kindly let us take pictures of the text of her speech which you can see below. Here is what she said:

Hello my name is Clare and I want to tell you about my life with Joanne + Ayeesha + Lorna + Graham + J.J. He’s our dog. It’s a good life.

My life did not used to be a good life.

My life was a disaster before I moved in.

I’m not going to tell you why, that is personal.

It got better when I moved in to Shared Lives.

It got better when I met Lorna and Graham. I was a bit shy at first. It was hard sometimes because I got a bit homesick.

I did not know what Shared Lives was. Not everyone does.

It’s hard to know what good is when you have not had it.

More people need to know about Shared Lives.

They need to know it is not about being stuck in a flat on your own.

It is not about being lonely.

It is about family.

It is about having choices.

It is just lovely.

It is a good life.

My message to you is that everyone should be able to have a good life.

Everyone should have the choice.

Lots of people like me are just told about living in flats.

They be told about Shared Lives.

They should be able to see it.

They should be able to try it.

They should be able to live it.

Everyone should have the chance to have a good life.

page 1 page 2