Shared Lives champions change lives for the better


Wigan Borough residents with caring values are being asked to consider becoming a ‘Shared Lives champion’ to offer regular afternoon, day or week-long care to give those with additional needs a break from their usual living and care arrangements.

The selfless actions of Wigan Borough’s caring champions are being recognised as part of a national awareness week.

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.

Councillor Keith Cunliffe, deputy leader of Wigan Council and portfolio holder for adult social care, added: “Our Shared Lives champions really make a huge difference in the lives of people around our borough – whatever commitment they are able to make.

“We are very grateful to all our champions and would urge anyone who thinks that they might be able to help, from a full-time placement to a couple of hours a week, to get in touch to learn more about becoming a Shared Lives champion.”

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

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 – and champions are offered reasonable payment for their time and expenses.

It can help them achieve goals such as living more independently, going to college, developing travel skills, visiting places outside Wigan and going 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.

Dave Concannon, a Shared Lives Champion from Leigh, said:

“My wife Julie and I had been fostering for around 20 years, when one of the children we looked after moved on to a different programme, we wanted to see how we could help in other ways.

“It was at this point we heard about Shared Lives – we learnt more and thought that this would be ideal for everyone in our household.

“We contacted Wigan Council’s Shared Lives team and found the staff to be helpful and friendly.

“After going through a simple panel process, we heard about James – after meeting his family, we built a relationship and James began staying with us at weekends until he moved in full time back in November.

“He gets along wonderfully with everyone and has certainly livened up our lives for the better and both Julie and I enjoy our time with him.”

James, who lives with Dave and Julie says: “I like living with Dave and Julie because they take good care of me and take me to interesting places such as National Trust properties and Martin Mere, and to watch wrestling and the theatre!”

Could you become a Shared Lives champion? Our champions come from all walks of life. You don’t need any qualifications or experience, you just need to have some spare time or the ability to share your home to make a real difference to someone’s life.

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