Leeds carer who went extra mile during Covid lockdown is 'humbled' by Queen's Birthday Honour

A Leeds carer who went the extra mile during Covid lockdowns to help the adults with learning disabilities who live with her at her home in Seacroft has been recognised in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours.

By Mark Lavery
Saturday, 12th June 2021, 11:32 am

Rowenna Garrard-Brown has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to Social Care during Covid-19

Rowenna works for St Anne's Shared Lives - a charity that cares for adults with learning difficulties and places them in carers' homes.

She has been the full time carer for a man in his 40s for four years and a woman in her 40s for two years.

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Rowenna Garrard-Brown Photo: Gary Longbottom

Mum of two Rowenna, 53, said she realised early on in the pandemic that their physical and mental health would suffer during lockdowns unless she acted.

Each week Rowenna drew up a full timetable of activities, which included cooking skills, arts and crafts, exercise, dancing and film time.

She made sure they took an active role in learning new skills and devised quizzes to support their practical skills and learning.

Her ideas were so successful that they were adopted by other services.

Rowenna Garrard-Brown Photo: Gary Longbottom

Rowenna said: "During lockdown they were at home for months on end. Doing nothing wasn't going to help anybody.

"I knew early on it wasn't going to do their mental and physical health any good."

Rowenna added: "We had some really good times. Both of them can still tell me how to make an omelette and a pancake.

"I really feel as though we have achieved something."

Rowenna said she is "very humbled" to receive the honour, adding: "I feel as though someone will pinch me and I will wake up."

Shared Lives supports 80 people aged over 16 in Leeds to live independently in the community with the support of a family and community network.

Shared Lives said it is an alternative to supported living or residential care and can be described as being like fostering for adults

Jonathan Hainsworth, St Anne’s Shared Lives scheme manager, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic brought challenges for everyone, but it had a particular impact on those with learning disabilities whose routine was turned on its head.

"Not only did it impact on her clients, but as a single carer Rowenna had to embrace caring for her clients on her own without a break.

"Rowenna has faced all the challenges that Covid has thrown at us in the last 18 months with a determination that her clients would not lose the skills or levels of independence they had but enhance them.

"We are extremely proud of Rowenna and we are delighted that the work she has done with her Shared Lives clients has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday Honours List.

"This news has come at the perfect moment as it’s been a tough 18 months for everyone and it’s so good to have something to celebrate”.

Azra Kirkby, chief executive of St Anne’s Community Services, said: "Shared Lives is about bringing together amazing people to support people to have fulfilled lives, and Rowenna is a wonderful example of this.

Shared Lives project worker Debbie Lewis, said: "Rowenna really has gone the extra mile and I really am absolutely delighted that she has been recognised in this way."