Micheal, who lives with Shared Lives South West Carer Barbara Barnwell in Somerset, calls her his ‘rock’.
He has turned his life around and is thriving in the two years he’s been supported by her home in Langport.
“Barbara cheers me up and is my rock,” said Michael.
“I am really happy and my Mum is happy that I am happy too. I do take some of the credit – but Barbara has to take some of it as well. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be doing all this, she has really helped me.”
Michael is clearly at home and plays his part in the household.
“I strip my bed and help Barbara make it,” he said.
“I also put the washing up away and carry the shopping bags when we’ve been out.”
“We watch Emmerdale altogether and then do our own thing for a little while and all come together at 9pm to watch a some television, so we all have our own space,” added Barbara.
He’s at ease as he talks about going to Westhay Opportunity Centre and how goes by bus.
Michael makes wooden crafts, chops wood, looks after small animals as well as growing fruit and veg in the Summer.
He also cooks amazing bakes.
“I made a good coffee cake and scones,” he said proudly.
His weeks are packed and he enjoys going to a regular disco night in Glastonbury with Maria, who also lives as part of the household and uses Shared Lives services.
“She is such a lovely girl,” said Michael.
“We all get on so well.”
He likes his routine and sees his Mum on a Thursday and at weekends and is also attends another disco run by a local church.
Micheal enjoys doing the shopping with Barbara and is part of the local community.
“We go to Somerton and support local traders,” said Barbara.
“We go to the fishmonger, Eves Fruit and Veg shop and to the local pet shop together,” said Barbara.
Michael moved in with Barbara after family illness and he suffered a breakdown.
Slowly, Barbara worked with him to help him get back on his feet and build his confidence.
“I work with him and talk through any worries he has,” said Barbara.
He’s lost two stone in weight thanks to a healthy diet and a more physical lifestyle.
“We enjoy some fabulous walks along the local river where we walk the dogs,” said Barbara.
It’s clear caring is in Barbara’s blood as she was a foster carer before becoming a Shared Lives Carer six years ago.
“I got into it as I was providing respite for a teenager at transition age and was told if I wanted to continue I’d have to become a Shared Lives Carer,” said Barbara.
“I decided to do it full time and have not looked back, I love it.”
Barbara says she finds it really rewarding.
“I quite like nurturing people and watching them develop and grow,” she said humbly.
“Micheal was fragile when he first got here, but now he’s so much more confident.
“Sometimes it is great to see small changes in them and seeing them so happy.”
Somerset Shared Lives Carer’s have seen some changes since SLSW took on the contract for the service in October. There have been times of uncertainty which have settled.
Chatting about it, Barbara was very complimentary about the future.
“My SLC Amanda is fabulous and I know I can call her if I need support,” she said.
Shared Lives South West rocks!
“The training and support we now have is on the up!
“It’s also wonderful that we now have a Funding and Benefits team to help with the paperwork now. It makes a huge difference.
“Being a Shared Lives Carer isn’t for everyone, but she thinks it can be a great career choice. I’d say to anyone considering being a Shared Lives Carer in Somerset or beyond to do it, it’s fantastic and wish more people would come forward to do it.”
Find out all the latest Shared Lives South West news here.