‘Sparkle and Shine’!

The call is out for more Shared Lives stars.

Sheffield City Council is seeking to increase the number of local stars who take the opportunity to change lives through the Shared Lives carer programme.

Lindsay Wills and her husband Mark are long-term Shared Lives carers for two adults in Sheffield, as well as foster carers for three young people. Lindsay said: “It’s like having the most amazing family. If you have some patience, and a sense of nurturing, then it’s great fun. You do need to be willing to get a bit out of your comfort zone, but you’re learning all the time. It keeps you young.

“I suppose it’s a kind of job, but if it is, it’s the best job in the world.”

Two adults with learning disabilities live with Lindsay, husband Mark, three foster children, and their small dog. Eddie, 21, has been with the family since he was eight. Lindsay says that their journey to becoming Shared Lives carers was a natural progression.

“We started out as foster carers, and then moved to fostering children with disabilities, so being Shared Lives carers is the most natural progression.

“At first it can seem daunting, having someone new in your home, but you soon get to be at ease with it. You get to know that person, and they become a part of your family. We just think so much of them.

“Above all, it’s fun. We’re always doing things, whether we’re away in the camper, doing our project in the garden or just shopping at Meadowhall.”

Lindsay says the support the council provides to Shared Lives carers is an important element of what she does.

“The support from the Sheffield Council’s Shared Lives team is amazing. It’s really great support. They’re available all the time. People are given training and ongoing support and paid a carer’s fee of £400-£450 per week, or £65 for a night’s respite care.”

Lindsay has joined Sheffield City Council in calling for more people to become Shared Lives carers and says the family’s commitment to caring has been good for her birth children too.

“My daughter is now working in care too. If she had a spare room, she’d be a Shared Lives carer as well!”

Councillor Chris Peace, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said:

“Shared Lives is such an important service in all of our communities. In every part of the city we find true stars; people who give other adults the chance to live in a nurturing, family environment. We’re looking for more carers to offer respite and live-in care and to be the kind of stars that Lindsay and Mark are.

“You can bring out someone’s extra sparkle as a Shared Lives carer. You help them shine. You make a real difference for people, who become part of your family. This is a brilliant opportunity to make a difference, for people who are compassionate, want to help and who have a spare room. If that’s you, please get in touch.”

The council is promoting the call for more Shared Lives carers with a performance on the Moor on Thursday 21st June by the appropriately-named Sparkle Sistaz.

That will be followed with an ‘Under the Stars’ musical movement performance on Friday 22nd also on the Moor.

On both days staff from the Shared Lives team will be available to meet members of the public and to provide more information about the life-changing opportunities available in the Shared Lives carers’ work.

The council is promoting Shared Lives carer opportunities throughout national Shared Lives week (18 to 24 June) with:

  • Awareness raising of Shared Lives on Monday 18 June in Moorfoot reception,
  • A Fire Station Party and games for carers and service users on Wednesday 20 June,
  • An evening fostering event to attend and discuss with foster carers, also on Wednesday 20th June,
  • The Sparkle Sistaz performance on Thursday 31st June and,
  • An information stall and flyer hand out with a stellar performance from ‘Under the Stars’ at 12.30 on Friday 22nd June

Carers make a variety of commitments; as short breaks carers, long term carers, day Support Carers and more general support carers. In Sheffield 47 adults are supported by a Shared Lives carer. Most of them have a learning disability and others have mental health or physical needs.

Visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/sharedlives or call 0114 273 5275 to find out more.