Wigan heroes who share their lives to help others recognised

The selfless actions of Wigan borough’s caring champions have been recognised as part of a national campaign.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 3:04 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 3:31 pm
Shared Lives champion Ronnie (right) with friend Andrew whom he supports
Shared Lives champion Ronnie (right) with friend Andrew whom he supports

Shared Lives Week celebrates those who give up their time and extend a helping hand to those facing additional challenges because of disability, age, illness or social isolation.

Across the borough there are more than 100 Shared Lives champions – ranging from those who spend an evening a week offering support, to those who share their homes to help adults with additional needs to develop their independence and offer friendship.

This year’s theme is resilience and the council is encouraging anyone who would like to join this remarkable team to come forward.

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Council deputy Keith Cunliffe, who is portfolio holder for adult social care, said: “Becoming a Shared Lives champion can really make a huge difference in the lives of people around our borough.

“The fact that this year’s theme for Shared Lives Week is resilience is very apt – it illustrates the adaptation and hard work which has allowed this service to continue in Wigan throughout the pandemic, reducing isolation and building community.

“We are very grateful to all our champions and would urge anyone who thinks that they might be able to help to get in touch to learn more about becoming a Shared Lives champion.”

Shared Lives offers people the opportunity to live in a family environment and to develop meaningful friendships that enable them to live life to the full in their local communities.

It can help them achieve goals such as going to college, develop travel skills, visit places outside Wigan and go on holiday.

Adults who need support are carefully matched with Shared Lives champions, who are local people with shared interests, or simply someone that they get on well with.

One of the champions whose story is being highlighted this week is Val Keegan, from Hindley Green, who spends around four hours a week offering friendship, advice and support to a young woman locally.

Val, who heard about the Shared Lives service through a friend, said: “I really enjoy being a Shared Lives champion because it feels like you’re giving something back and helps people have a respite from whatever issues they are facing. It feels good to know you’re helping someone to have a better day.

“What you do depends on who you support but we enjoy going out for dog walks and, now the Covid-19 restrictions have eased a little, we spend a lot of the time sitting in the sunny garden just chatting. When restrictions ease further, we are planning to go to yoga together and do other normal life things! It’s great to be able to spend time with someone who has similar interests to me.

“I work full time, I go to the gym, I have a dog to look after, but this is one night a week. To sacrifice one night a week when you enjoy doing it yourself is nothing.”

Could you become a Shared Lives champion? Champions come from all walks of life. Qualifications and experience are not required: only spare time or the ability to share a home to make a real difference in someone’s life.

For more visit www.wigan.gov.uk/sharedlivesThanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers.