Our interim CEO, Jayne Wilson, who is our Director of Development, joined Shared Lives Plus as our Shared Lives expansion project manager. Here she reflects on her first year at Shared Lives Plus, the membership organisation for Homeshare UK, and what drew her to our members’ work.  

When I joined Shared Lives Plus in October 2020 to lead an emergency Covid project to work with Shared Lives schemes and recruit 200 new Shared Lives carers, no-one told me how that role would change my own life for the future. If someone had said back then that I would be acting up as interim CEO for Shared Lives Plus I wouldn’t have believed them – in some ways, it’s different to most of my other roles.

Since I left university, I have been involved in community and youth work. I worked alongside people and groups to deliver change they wanted to see either as an individual or as a community. In all my roles, including my last role as CEO of a charity supporting people with learning disabilities; personal choice, support and independence were the underlying principles of the work with communities and young people. As I got to know more about Homeshare and Shared Lives I realised that the principles are the same and feel more relevant and important than ever. It’s really not that much different at all.

Some of this understanding came from personal experience too as I have spent the past couple of years looking after my parents. This along with 10 years spent living with my Grandad has meant I have first-hand experience of what remaining at home and independent means to people, which is why Homeshare feels so important to me. I’m really looking forward to being part of the fantastic team around the growth of Homeshare next year so hundreds more older people can stay at home where they are comfortable and be better connected to their community, whatever the pandemic throws at us.

Working with our Ambassadors or hearing from any of our families or individuals in Shared Lives, Homeshare or our new Family by Family pilot is the highlight of my working week. I always smile because it doesn’t matter which of those services people are participating in, you can see that what is means to support people, to be part of something bigger and make connections. What is obvious is that it isn’t just people being supported or our Homesharers or seeking families who benefit – those reaching out and willing to support someone else always talk about how they benefit and how much they love being a part of what we do. You can catch a glimpse of members talking to delegates and the Minister of Care and Mental Health, Gillian Keegan MP, at our UK conference recently.

The more I work for Shared Lives Plus the more I realise that my personal and professional experiences have embedded in me the values around putting people first (personalisation), co-production and collaboration which feel so core to the work here. I think it’s why I feel so much part of the organisation and wider team after short time. And I know these values will continue to shape how I approach the interim role this year.

This year, we’re continuing to put our values into practice, and I’m looking forward to the Your Voice forums, for all our members, starting in January 2022.  There’s more information in Sharing magazine and our regular newsletters.

I always have so much to learn – but I know that I have the support of a fantastic team and wider membership who are willing to help. I look forward to working with you – and hope to meet you soon.