The difference Shared Lives carers can make
As a Shared Lives carer, you can make such a huge difference in the lives of the people we support.
By supporting someone who comes to live with you and your family or by supporting someone during the day, you can help empower someone to live the life they want to.
Hopefully you've seen our Shared Lives campaign, seen our video or noticed the faces on our website. These are all real people that we support and real PSS Shared Lives carers. Let's introduce you to some of them, and a few more friendly faces, too.
Fran' loves the great outdoors.
Fran, 55, uses our Shared Days service in the Midlands.
After experiencing a stroke, Fran lost her mobility and began using a wheelchair. When we first met Fran, she'd lost a lot of confidence in her ability to move about - but she'd certainly not lost her dry sense of humour!
We knew Shared Lives carer Claudia would be a brilliant match for Fran and that the pair would get on like a house on fire, so we introduced them. Sure enough, Fran and Claudia have been a brilliant match and Claudia's been supporting Fran to get back out there and do the things she enjoys most: arts and crafts, visiting National Trust parks, and just generally being in the great outdoors. She's even supported Fran to start operating her own electric wheelchair, and there's no stopping her now.
Chris, Natasha, Chloe and Dave's happy family
When Shared Lives carers Dave and Chris first met Chloe, they'd already been supporting her sister, Natasha, for a few months with our Moving On service. Natasha and Chloe had been in foster care for six years.
When Chloe turned 18, she thought she'd be staying with her foster carers, but it didn't work out as planned. Chloe really liked living with her foster carers and didn't want to leave them. The thought of leaving where she lived and her foster carers behind led Chloe to experience some mental health challenges.
When Chloe joined her sister at Dave and Chris', they were really worried about her. She was underweight and felt really sad.
But that was in 2018. Today, after a few years of being part of Dave and Chris' family, Chloe is getting her life back to where she wants it to be. Chloe's got a heart of gold - Dave and Chris helped her follow it. She's having counselling to manage her emotions, she's learning loads of new life skills, she's enjoying spending time with her boyfriend and her mates, and she's got a volunteering job at Barnado's.
Chloe never used to have a relationship with her mum before Shared Lives, but thanks to the support of Dave and Chris, she now sees her once a fortnight - and she lives round the corner!
All aboard the Shared Lives train for Mitch
The big grin on Mitch's face says it all, really.
Mitch is 24 and he has been living with Shared Lives carers the Frosts (the wonderful John and Linda) since he was seven: now they're his Shared Lives carers, but they used to be his foster carers.
Before he met the Frost family, Mitch had been through eight foster parents, so was feeling really unsettled. It was hard for him to feel at home, until he met John and Linda. They originally took him into their home on a respite placement from his foster carers - and the rest is history.
When Mitch turned 16, he wasn't ready to live alone yet, so John and Linda became part of Shared Lives, with our Moving On Together service.
Mitch has a learning disability and unfortunately, this has meant he's come up against some barriers to doing the things he enjoys in life. A lot of people didn't understand his condition, which left him feeling alone and left-out.
Thankfully, Linda and John were there to really listen to what Mitch wanted. His dream was always to work on the railway, so Linda and John started supporting Mitch to become more confident and independent, in preparation for him one day getting there. They believed Mitch could do it from day one and were determined to help him remove any barrier that got in his way - including the words of his school and college who told Mitch he'd never do it.
Well... he did do it. Mitch now works for East Midlands trains, and he's absolutely delighted to be finally living him dream.
Nicky and Kevin's need for speed
If seeing the look of absolute delight on Nicky's face to be showing off his utter beauty of a yellow scooter doesn't make you smile, we don't know what will.
Nicky's been working on souping up his Lambretta with his Shared Lives carer Maria for while, living with her as part of our Live-in Shared Lives service in Lincolnshire. He'd just got back off a Disney cruise with Maria and her hubby when we took this picture so was feeling very refreshed. Nicky loves nothing more than going to rallies and scooter meets with his gang of biker mates every week down the local pub, where he's joined by Kevin.
Kevin has a learning disability, uses our Live-in Shared Lives service, lives with Shared Lives carer Maria and is a petrol head, too, just like Nicky. Kevin's set of wheels is a 125cc motorcycle and you can usually find him cruising round the country roads in his local area for a bit of peace and tranquility. If he's not doing that, you might find him doing something else daring. With the support of Maria, Kevin's done a skydive and he's recently braved the glass floor at Blackpool tower - an adrenaline junky! But Kevin's most recent pursuit is a little less speedy... he's learning to play guitar.
Nicky and Kevin get on swimmingly and love going on their holidays together - particularly when they go to visit Maria's caravan.
Some other friendly faces
We love hearing from the people we support, so here's a collection of videos we've been sent from people using Shared Lives all over the UK and the Isle of Man to tell you all about their Shared Lives experiences. They wanted to share their story with you to show you just how big of a difference you could make in someone's life.