Islington Shared Lives connects adults and young people aged 16 and over who require support with carers within the community. Keisha has been a Shared Lives carer for more than two years now. She tells IslingtonLife what her job entails and why she finds her work so rewarding
I came across Shared Lives by accident, but I’m so glad I did – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Although the application process took about six months, the team were so friendly. I felt like I was having a conversation with friends.
At the moment I provide day services to two siblings, to give their mum some respite. The care takes place in my home and works perfectly for my lifestyle as I am also self-employed, running a business, and I have two school-aged children. I choose to prioritise my Shared Lives work over my other work because I feel like it is what I am here to do. The service is really flexible, though, so it could also work for someone who has a nine-to-five job.
My day typically starts at 10am, when they love to jump on their tablet devices with their headphones on and listen to music. What we do for the rest of the day is up to them. It could be crafts, baking, bowling, or going to the park gym. Access to park gyms is very important to them, as they have the flexibility to move around, unlike in an indoor gym. They also set goals they want to work towards, and it is so rewarding to see them both learn new skills and grow more confident.
Both my sons really love seeing my Shared Lives residents and the residents love seeing them too. It is like a breath of fresh air. One of them has such a great bond with my youngest son. He finds him so funny and is excited to see him. Watching their bond grow is so special.
I have also developed great friendships through the Shared Lives carers group and it’s great to learn from others. The Shared Lives coordinators provide such amazing support and training, too – I know I can call them at any time, with any question. Everyone seems so genuine and loves what they do.
It is often hard to find a job that you really enjoy and get paid for it, but that’s how I feel about Shared Lives. I hope to be doing this until I cannot do it anymore.