Leeds carers and clients celebrate milestone for St Anne's Shared Lives

The Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson, joined Shared Lives clients and carers to celebrate 25 years of the scheme.

A Leeds service which offers support to adults with learning disabilities celebrated its 25th anniversary with a party for more than 80 of its clients and carers.

St Anne’s Shared Lives works with people whose learning difficulties make it harder or impossible to live alone and matches them with carers who are willing to open up their homes and share their family and community lives.

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Over the past 25 years, it has helped more than 60 people throughout Leeds and the surrounding area.

Project manager Jonathan Hainsworth said: “The key part of Shared Lives is ensuring that clients live the most fulfilled life they possible can within a family environment.

“It’s to support them to be more independent in the local community and to undertake some of things they’ve not been able to do in the past. They’ve gone on holiday for the first time, got involved with local community groups.

Shared Lives clients and carers spoke about their experiences and met the Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson.

“We’ve had people who wouldn’t talk to anybody, who were very isolated. Now they’re out at college, they’ve got friends and a social life. You wouldn’t recognise them from the person who first linked up with the scheme.”

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He said it had been fantastic to bring together so many of the carers and clients involved over the years for Saturday’s anniversary event at Pudsey Masonic Hall.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson, also came along for the celebrations and took the chance to meet those involved in Shared Lives.

Mr Hainsworth said the Mayor had quickly picked up on the key qualities of the carers – a good sense of humour, patience and a willingness to share their lives.

“It’s a big undertaking,” he said. “It always amazes me just how much they play down the role that they do. I couldn’t be any prouder than to be the manager of this service.”

He also added his thanks to the Masonic Hall, which provided the venue, staff and catering for the party at no cost.

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