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From Fostering to Shared Lives - The importance of family care

Grant has a long history of offering a loving family setting to those who need it. Starting out child minding alongside his late wife Carol, they soon became foster carers and over the years have supported more than 40 children and young people to grow, flourish and move on into independent adult lives.

Adam was one of those youngsters who came to Grant’s home as a toddler for just a day a week initially, when his own family were struggling to cope. The length of the visits gradually increased and Adam quickly became an established part of the family. When Adam turned 18, as with all foster placements, things could have come to an end, but Grant and his family (including his daughter Emma, who is a support carer for Adam) decided to explore the option of Shared Lives, becoming carers to continue Adam's support into adulthood, and to maintain their family unit.

Shared Lives meant Adam could stay with the family he had grown to love and now, aged 25, he is certainly living his best life. He has five nieces and nephews (who adore their uncle Adam) and was page boy at Emma’s wedding. Together the family have been on many adventures including cruises (with Disney being a particular highlight) and skiing trips. Adam attended Ridge College and became such a firm favourite with staff and students alike that, despite having graduated, he is still invited back to join in with events and activities. He is currently in the middle of rehearsals for his first play with the group, a piece about the royal family, which seems very apt given Adam’s other recent achievement – his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Supported by Grant and Emma, Adam has worked extremely hard to meet all the requirements for this challenge and was very excited to receive the award.

Adam has many talents and loves singing and karaoke so was also looking forward to a trip to Scarborough to see Mamma Mia. He is a massive ABBA fan and has already been out to Sweden to learn more about the group. He hasn’t yet been to the ABBA museum but it’s on his bucket list and with Grant, Emma and the family, it’s more than likely he will be supported to achieve this in the future.

Adam also volunteers at a charity shop on Thursdays and Fridays and this presents the perfect opportunity for a cheeky ‘chippy tea’ afterwards, one of his favourite treats!

Besides all the fun and big plans, Shared Lives is really focused on making sure everyday life runs smoothly. Adam has learnt lots of skills and helps out with the everyday chores around the house.

Grant and Emma love their caring role, and the family unit they have created. Emma told us that while "there is a bit of a difference to a normal family, because we have to do training to support Adam, and ongoing paperwork as part of his care package. But Avalon Group supports us with this and after a while it becomes just a normal part of our lives together, making sure Adam is safe and happy."

Speaking about the Shared Lives role itself, Grant said "It is incredibly rewarding, everybody has to be on board and have capacity to embrace it because it has to be a whole family approach; the fulfilment Adam gets is what it's all about and we're so happy to do what we're doing".

If you'd like to find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer, click HERE.

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