Christopher, aged 47, has a learning disability. While he used to live independently, he found that living alone led to a decline in his mental health. Shared Live , which enables people like Christopher to be supported within a family home, seemed like the perfect solution.
Now Christopher lives with Mark and Debbie Griffin, aged 53 and 60 respectively, in Bexley, London.
And since moving in with the couple, his life has taken a turn for the better – so much so that he no longer has mental health practitioner input. He now volunteers at a church and has completed a certificate in Food Hygiene so he can help serve food and drink.
He also enjoys walking the family dogs and has been travelling to Canada, Australia and America. What’s more – he’s now got a paid job.
For the family, Shared Lives was a way to give something back while still earning a living – something that became very important when Debbie had to take a step back from her career as a nurse after breaking her back. She also later experienced what is known as brain stem syndrome (similar to a stroke). Mark, who was formerly a contract cleaner in London, now stays at home full time.
Asked about the change he’s seen in Christoper since he moved in with them as part of the scheme, Mark explained: “When he first came to us he was catatonic…there would never have been any hope of him coming out into the high street and speaking to people. That was something that would just never ever happen. But now he’s just so much more confident and happy.”
And it is seeing such transformations that makes being a Shared Lives carer worthwhile for Mark:“Part of our goal is to see them grow, see them flourish as a person and when you see that change taking place, that is really rewarding,” he said.
Watch Christopher ad the Griffins meet ITV in the film below: