Make a stranger part of your family

By Alex Fox, CEO, Shared Lives Plus

I am supporting The Social Integration Commission because at Shared Lives Plus our members commit to integration in a very special way, through sharing their homes and family lives with an adult who needs support, many of whom have been marginalised, isolated or kept in institutional care.

Shared Lives carers typically tell us that the person who has come to live with them, or has become a regular visitor at their family home, “is just one of the family”. We feel that there is much to learn from their experiences about how to ensure that integration work includes disabled people, people with mental health needs, older people with dementia and others who need support. This will happen when people with support needs are not seen only as people to be supported by their communities, but also as people with lots to contribute to community life.

Many public services will have to change their approach to make this a reality, arranging themselves around people’s family and community relationships and recognising that service models which take people away from their communities can themselves be barriers to integration.

Alex is a member of the Commission's Delivery Working Group

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