Wigan mum encourages others to become Shared Lives champion

Carole Hindley and Vicky Waterworth
Carole Hindley and Vicky Waterworth

“You get a lot from it, you don’t need to have money, just the time to help someone.”

The words of a borough mum who is encouraging others to consider becoming a Shared Lives champion.

When Carole Hindley starting fostering 12-year-old Vicky Waterworth, she never imagined she’d still be there 11 years later.

But after watching Vicky settle in and grow in confidence it was a no-brainer for her to stay with the family after her 18th birthday.

Vicky has additional needs and wasn’t ready to start living on her own after turning 18. She is now thriving with a job and a great social life, which she puts down to the support from her foster family.

Vicky lives with the family on a permanent placement through Wigan Council’s Shared Lives services.

The service creates friendships by matching volunteers with residents who may be isolated or need support due to disability, age or illness.

Anyone aged over 18 can become a champion for Shared Lives and will be matched with someone who will suit their personality.

Vicky said: “I’m really comfortable being here in a family.

“I help out a lot which has grown my independence and confidence.

“Carole’s been there for me and she’s part of my family now so I would never leave her.”

Carole said: “When it was approaching Vicky’s 18th birthday, when she would normally move on, Shared Lives approached me and I suggested she stay with us.

“She’s like my own daughter and it’s something I would have done anyway.

“I’ve seen her grow and have done my best to help her to become independent.”

Vicky has blossomed since living with Carole who said: “It’s very rewarding for me to see her getting a job and going out.

“You get a lot out of it, you don’t need to have money, you just need time to help someone.

“It’s really rewarding to see the smile on her face.”

Carole backed this year’s Shared Lives Week and is encouraging others to become champions.

It is up to the champion how many hours they volunteer or what support they can provide and, in return for volunteering their time, the champion receives a modest expense payment.

Coun Keith Cunliffe, cabinet member for adult social care at Wigan Council, said: “What we’re trying to do is build friendships. There are many residents across the borough who may be isolated and lonely and simply need a friend.

“The resident and the champion both get something out of being part of Shared Lives. We will match each volunteer with someone who is right for them.”

What type of support can champions give?

• Day/evening activities – where people can realise their aspirations and do the things that are important to them with support from their champion

• Respite/ short-term breaks – where people stay overnight at the home of their champion

• Full-time placement –where people live with their champion on a long-term basis and are valued as ‘one of the family’

To find out more about becoming a Shared Lives champion email sharedlives@wigan.gov.uk or call 01942 487044.