Emma’s Shared Lives story

Hello my name is Emma

I first started my journey with PSS Shared Lives in June 2013 after being removed from my foster home. This was a very scary time. From being moved from my foster home I went in to respite at in Newcastle. I stayed there for just over two weeks while social services tried to find me emergency accommodation. Eventually they did. They found me a place with a couple called Paula and Jim who also had an elderly gentleman living with them called Paul and a dog called Holly. I went to visit them on the Thursday and then by Friday I was moved in. Once I had settled and unpacked I was shown around the land, the best bit about this day was that I had my favourite dinner cooked for me, this was salmon and new potatoes with mixed vegetables. Also, the fact that they were a small holding with calves, beef bulls, sheep, lambs and chickens.

My journey with this family has not always been an easy one. For the first couple of years I was a very challenging young person to deal with. I didn’t know how to be part of a family; I had major trust issues and didn’t know what talking was, instead I’d shout at people. I was very scared and always thought that nothing nice could ever happen to me, I always put up different barriers with people to stop them from hurting me. During these first few years a lot of different professionals were involved with me ranging from social services the police, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, learning disability teams. I presented them with a lot of challenging behaviours from self-harming to emotional problems including having many night terrors and physical issues.

After a couple of years, with the help of these professionals and the support of Paula and Jim’s family including Paula’s many sisters and their daughters, I started to turn a corner with my behaviour, there was still the underlying issues of not making eye contact with different people when they were talking to me.

In the January of January 2014, I started a course at a college in Newcastle where I stayed for a year and a half. From here I moved to college in Nantwich where I became a residential student. I managed to complete my first year of study in Agriculture level 2 with a merit and then at graduation I won an across college award this was the JK Lumberton personal quality’s award, nominated by student services. This was because despite all my underlying issues going on outside and inside of college, I didn’t give up with my studies, I kept going and wanting to do well and achieve high grades.

Then in year two of being at college I again lived in and became part of the fresher’s crew which looks after the new intake of students to the college. During my four years of college I have grown in confidence, I’ve learnt to trust different people and form many friendships with both staff and students and do a speech in my second year and pick up another across college award for student contribution to wellbeing. From being scared to do anything on my own I can now book a taxi to take me to different places, book holidays with friends from college on my own and even catch a train on my own. None of these things would have been possible if it wasn’t for Paula and Jim giving up their time and love to show me and guide me in to becoming a better person, I never thought I could be loved but now I know I can, and now I have my own family.

I have made a lot of progress in the last six years, but I have also made a lot of people proud and Paula says if I had had the proper care and attention when young I would be prime minister now.

To find out more about becoming a Shared Lives carer visit: makeyourself.org.uk