National charity, Camphill Village Trust, is leading the way in recruiting BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) carers to its innovative Shared Lives scheme on behalf of Dudley Council.
Having been operational since September 2018, the scheme has drawn on the strengths of the diverse communities throughout the region and recruited 19 new households already, including seven from the BAME population. There are also many other households registering genuine interest in wanting to become Shared Lives carers.
Married couple Caroline and Gary Reid from Sandwell, who were approved as Shared Lives carers by the scheme just over a year ago, have after several introductory visits now been matched with 47-year-old Meg who has a learning disability and was previously living in residential care after her mother passed away some time ago.
"I’ve spent most of my working life in social care and would all too often come across very helpless people who were sad, isolated and in need of genuine attention, it broke my heart as I wanted to bring everyone home with me’.
"When I found out about Shared Lives, I was shocked as to why I hadn’t heard of it before, but immediately I jumped in with both feet, I just knew the ethos was going to be the perfect fit for my family. The scheme was very clear from the start that we wouldn’t necessarily receive BAME referrals, which was never a concern anyway. In the first few weeks of the arrangement, we’ve been proved it was such the right decision and we have seen Meg achieve so much in her communication, confidence around others and willingness to participate in family life, especially listening and moving to Gary’s old reggae rock, but there’s no accounting for taste," said Caroline.
Gary added: "Although Shared Lives was initially Caroline’s idea, having Meg come to live with us has made us more appreciative of our rich, diverse family. When growing up, my parents were very much at the centre of our neighbourhood, the door was always open, and my mum’s Saturday Soup was shared with all. We would truly encourage everyone to explore Shared Lives further, there’s an amazing sense of self-worth, to know you are giving something back to the wider community. For me, there is also a real need to have positive Black role models for our younger generations in today’s world of negative stereotypes. The saying whatever you give, will be returned tenfold, is true of Shared Lives and we feel very blessed to have this opportunity to share our family life."
The assessment process which involves an Enhanced DBS check, employment/life history and references, can take between three to six months before being approved by an independent panel. By being part of a registered scheme, Shared Lives carers are paid according to the level of support they provide, up to £570 per week, and because of their self-employed status, also qualify for tax relief.
Candy and Derrick Foster from Tipton and who were previously foster carers before recently moving over to be approved with Shared Lives added:
"Now, we are both a little older, Shared Lives fits in more with our settled family life, yet we still wish to care for those who need our love and support. Being some of the first Afro-Caribbean Shared Lives carers within the scheme, we can be the voice for the model throughout our local Black community and places of worship.
"Shared Lives means what it says, and the scheme ensures that regardless of ethnicity, the person is carefully matched based on their wants, wishes and needs, to become part of an active family like ourselves. The assessment process was thorough but friendly and we now feel part of a wider Shared Lives network very much stretching right across the Black Country and beyond."
Registered manager Kate Morgan, for Camphill Village Trust and also the first recipient of the national Shared Lives Champion of the Year Award 2019, said ‘Since we have established the scheme across Dudley and surrounding Black Country area, we have been tremendously successful and are now supervising 46 households. Within two years, we will have increased the number of Carers by 100 per cent, which is no mean feat."
Source: Express & Star