Less than 12 months ago new mum Abby was going to have to go to a special centre to help her with her parenting skills, miles away from her family and friends.
At the eleventh hour, Shared Lives South West services, were discussed as an option and before long Abby was matched with Shared Lives Carer Melanie Thomas.
Abby and her then four month old daughter Isabella moved in with Melanie and thanks to her support, Abby is thriving.
“To be a Shared Lives carer you have to be caring and embrace the person you are supporting into your family in every way shape and form,” said Melanie, who spent many years working in family support at Cornwall Council and previously taught parenting skills at the council.
A better life
“We aim to give Abby and Isabella a better life and better outcomes all round.
“Parents with a learning disability are highly scrutinised and I wanted to be an advocate for someone needing support.”
Gently, Melanie has worked on growing Abby’s confidence.
“She kept running things past me when she first moved in,” said Melanie.
“I kept reassuring her she was doing a great job and giving her recognition.
“Abby is doing so well at each stage of Isabella’s life. I’m there to help prepare her for each next stage.
“I also help her with budgeting.”
“For the first time ever I have my own account and card,” said Mum Abby, with a smile on her face.
“Each week when I get my money, Melanie talks me through what needs to be paid out and helps me work out what I need.” Melanie is thrilled to see how settled Abby is and can see a big difference in her.
“I feel so proud of how well Abby is doing and how healthy Isabella is,” said Melanie.
“To me Abby and Isabella are part of our family.
“If we have family outings or get together’s they are always invited.”
Melanie and Abby spend five days a week together 247 and go swimming, shopping, trawling the charity shops, go for walks and enjoy watching TV together.
“I took Abby to a local spa recently so she could have some time away,” said Melanie.
“It was wonderful for her to have some time on her own and experience something new and she loved it.”
Abby has worked hard and being a Mum and managed to get Isabella into a stable routine and manages her needs well.
She said the lack of sleep is hard, but Mel is on hand to offer advice and support to find solutions.
“It’s amazing I love living with Mel,” said Abby.
“She has helped me in every way. It’s so lucky I got to live with her as it’s changed both mine and Isabella’s lives for the better. Isabella is my world I do everything for her.”
Since moving in Abby has become a regular at a local slimming club.
“I’ve lost over a stone and a half,” she said smiling.
“I’ve got into a routine and know what’s healthy and what’s not.”
Abby is in a relationship with Martin, Isabella’s father, who they see at the weekend. Abby’s family also are regular visitors to their home.
“It’s a busy household, but I wouldn’t want it any other way” said Melanie.
Find out more Shared Lives South West news here.