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female carer and her foster placement daughter having a hug on the sofa at home

‘It’s about what you have in your heart to offer’

Do you have space in your heart and room in your home? Because that’s all it takes to be part of Ealing Council’s Shared Lives scheme, according to one carer who opened her heart and home to a special young woman more than 20 years ago.

Shared Lives Week and Learning Disabilities Week are both being nationally celebrated this month and to mark this, Around Ealing spoke to carer Patricia and Norvege, who was welcomed into Patricia’s family from the age of 15, about their experience of being a part of Shared Lives.

Ealing Shared Lives (ESL) is an adult placement service, which enables carers to provide support and accommodation to adults with additional needs who live in Ealing. This can be either on a long-term basis or for short breaks.

Patricia welcomed Norvege, who has learning disabilities, into her family as a foster care placement when Norvege was a teenager. Norvege soon became a firm part of the family and, thanks to the Shared Lives scheme, she was able to remain with Patricia, her husband and their son in their home in Greenford after she turned 18. Norvege is now 36 years old.

‘We all need somebody’

Patricia said: “Even if you haven’t got a care background, if you are very patient and have that nurturing personality in you, of course you can do it. It’s not a job, it’s about what you have in your heart to offer.”

“We all need somebody, and the little you can help in this world – it’s important, and Shared Lives is there.”

Norvege added: “When I’m with [Patricia] I feel like she’s my protector, my shield, and there’s no one like her. There’s nothing I love more than being with my family.”

Norvege also enjoys going to IMPACT Theatre, in Perivale, and taking part in the various disability arts, events and activities that they offer.

Councillor Josh Blacker, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for healthy lives, said: “It’s so heartwarming to see wonderful relationships like Patricia and Norvege’s develop. It’s such a rewarding and fulfilling scheme to be part of and our hard-working staff strive to place people with the right families for them.

“Schemes such as Shared Lives play such an important part in supporting adults with additional needs and we’d love to see more people like Patricia come forward and offer their support.”

Find out more

If you are interested in being a Shared Lives carer, please contact Verity Fitzgerald, ESL registered manager, via email: fitzgeraldv@ealing.gov.uk or go to the council’s website for more information.

Shared Lives Week 26–30 June

To celebrate Shared Lives Week and 30 years of Ealing Shared Lives, the ESL team is hosting a tea party in the Telfer Room, Ealing Town Hall from 11am-1pm on Monday, 26 June. Please come along to find out more about ESL, pick up information about the scheme and speak to our carers.

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