Shared Lives Carers wanted

Would you like to share your life?  Have you ever thought about supporting someone in your own home?

Lester enjoys helping out in his local community
Lester enjoys helping out in his local community

Shared Lives gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity of living with a Shared Lives Carer in their home, either in a long-term arrangement or on a respite basis, which may be a day, weekend or a few weeks at a time.

We are looking for people who currently live in Wandsworth, have a spare bedroom and would be interested in sharing their home and life with someone who needs support.

Experience within the care sector is desirable, but not essential; what is important is that you have dedication and a desire to make a difference.

We believe in providing just the right level of support so people can flourish, contribute and lead a healthy life in just the way they want to. As a Shared Lives Carer you would have an important part to play to support people to have real choice and control over how they plan and organise their support.

We aim to match people by finding out their interests, skills and what makes them tick. This enables Carers to build positive and mutually beneficial relationships with the people we support.

Find out more what this sort of support means to someone like Lester, who lives with a Shared Lives family

Shared Lives Carers receive on-going support and a range of training opportunities from Wandsworth’s Shared Lives scheme. Shared Lives Carers receive a fee for the support they provide.

For further details and to contact Shared Lives please visit our contact us  page, where you can email or telephone us.

A Shared Life is a Good Life

Lester enjoys helping out in his local community
Lester enjoys helping out in his local community

Lester loves chatting, travelling, dancing, theme parks, a night out at the local and Thunderbirds. In essence he loves life – and he wants to be a part of it. Fortunately for Lester he is living with a Shared Lives family who want him to make the most of his life too.

This means that Lester is part of a very natural network of family, extended family, friends, work colleagues and fellow volunteers. He’s lived with Maya, Patrick and their two children for 11 years and considers them some of the most important people in his life.

Lester goes on holiday with them and has notched up an enviable list of destinations including Mauritius, Germany, Holland and California. Every week Maya, Patrick and Lester go to the local pub for a relaxing evening out and once a month they all hit the dance floor at the Brixton Hootenany club night.

He is still close to his real family and enjoys spending time with his sister who lives in Brighton and his brother and his wife and their two children who live in Cornwall. “My nephews are great – when I send them birthday presents they send back notes saying Thank You Uncle Lester!”

Lester says he likes his Shared Lives carer, Maya, because “she has a great way of looking after me, keeping me clean and tidy and cooking my favourite meals”. This safe, stable, normal home life has provided Lester with the perfect base to branch out into his local community.

Maya and her family are really nice. They’ve encouraged me to get involved where we live and I now have a very busy life. I feel like part of the family. Lester

Lester likes to fill his days with purposeful activity and he is certainly making a contribution; twice a week he helps out at The Bridge – a centre for people with learning disabilities – where enjoys helping out “sweeping the floors, cleaning the windows and keeping the place tidy and nice”. He considers Barbara, Amy, Neil and the many others who work with him there to be good friends. On different days he collects money for Cancer Research outside the shop on Balham High Street.  His personal charm and willingness to engage with people has made him a hit with passers-by and a great fundraiser. “I love talking to the mums and especially the children – I like to entertain them.”

On his one free day during the week, Lester meets with Mark, another Shared Lives carer, and together they do what ever Lester feels like. His zest for life is there for all to see in his eclectic mix of outing and adventures. Recent trips have included being part of the audience on the Paul O’Grady Show – “one of my favourite programmes” and a trip to Chessington World of adventures – “I love the bumper cars”.

Shared Lives gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity of living with a Shared Lives Carer in their home, either in a long-term arrangement or on a respite basis, which may be a day, a weekend, or a few weeks at a time. Shared Lives enables people to benefit from consistent support from people who know them well and to build positive and mutually beneficial relationships. If you would like more information about becoming a Shared Lives Carer, or living with a Shared Lives family, contact us.

Good communication, effective planning and shared risk: Certitude’s approach to supporting people with complex needs

WordItOut-word-cloud-601182Over the past year, Certitude has participated in Making it Real for Everyone, a joint project between the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme (JIP) and Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) which aims to show how providers and commissioners can work together with families to provide local personalised support to people with challenging and complex needs.

Our work has focused on enabling families to stay living together through outreach and respite support. We see this as critical support if we are to reduce the increasing numbers of people who still continue to be admitted to assessment and treatment units.

Mary Schumm, Certitude’s Director of Learning Disability Services, says:

“In our view, support should start with the individual and their family and friends. If people can be helped within their community and by their natural support networks that’s a success. We believe that by tailoring support around a person’s individual needs, people can avoid being referred to – or re-admitted to – treatment and assessment units. One size does not fit all. If we can get support right in the individual’s local community we can achieve the long-term objective of ensuring these units are not required in the first place.

Support should start with the individual and their family and friends. If people can be helped within their community and by their natural support networks that’s a success

At the heart of what we are doing is good communication and planning. Ideally we try to sit down with an individual and their community team, their psychologist, their case co-ordinator and their families as soon as we are asked to support – or if the person is in transition – six months before we begin our support. Then we meet up regularly as our support continues. Sharing information, listening to one another and building trusting relationships with everyone involved in the person’s life is crucial for a successful outcome for an individual. Family involvement is particularly important; a relative’s personal insight and experience is invaluable. Sharing the risk together is a very important element of planning and support.

This idea of shared risk is important because if we all agree on a plan and if something goes wrong we can openly reflect on what happened rather than seeking blame. Being open and honest with one another should help us to get the right approach from the start, but if things don’t quite work out we have to be up for trying again using what we’ve learnt. If we want to enable a person to have choice and control over their lives we have to recognise that we’re not going to get it right every time and we’re committed to learning from our mistakes. Once the support team have confidence in one another, it is a question of building trust with the person we are supporting.

 Being open and honest with one another should help us to get the right approach from the start, but if things don’t quite work out we have to be up for trying again using what we’ve learnt.

At the moment we are working with a young man in his early 20s who is extremely anxious and whose home situation is quite unstable. We began by supporting him at home, and then at our small (3 bed) respite service during the day, to give his family a break, and to enable him to relax in a safe environment. We have matched staff to his likes and dislikes and he is beginning to relax around them and see the house as a safe place; a home from home. Our aim is that he will eventually feel comfortable enough to stay overnight so that if an emergency occurs he can come here rather than the situation becoming so difficult at home that admission to an assessment and treatment unit is the default solution.

In addition to establishing strong support networks with existing local services we have created our own Intensive Support team who bring specialist skills; the team is made up of a Person-Centred Planning Manager, a Communication Development Manager, a Positive Behaviour Support Manager, Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner, and a Family Support Manager. Depending on the support needed, each of these specialist roles can be called upon to support an individual, their family and their support team.”

Aisling Duffy, Certitude’s Chief Executive, says: “The work of the Winterbourne View JIP and the recently published Bubb report has shone the spotlight on improving community support and we welcome that wholeheartedly. The report makes some positive statements about what is needed to make long lasting change. The real work, however, is in making it happen and we look forward to seeing NHS England’s response and action plan. Without doubt, the commissioning of support needs to start from a rights based approach which is at the heart of the LB Bill. People who have learning disabilities and their families are citizens whose rights, desires and wishes must be heard, respected and acted upon. This can be the only starting point for getting it right.”

Working in REAL partnership with individuals and their families, advocacy, community teams and commissioning bodies to enable people to receive the support they need locally has made a positive difference to peoples lives. Sharing our approaches through Making it Real for Everyone, and learning from others has been a valuable experience and the people we support are already feeling the benefits.

Investment in effective and person centred support to individuals and their family, that is timely and which can flex as needs change is essential if we are to prevent people from being admitted to these units in the first place.

Partnering with Sainsbury’s to support more people with disabilities in Wandsworth

Launching our Sainsbury's partnershipThroughout 2014-15 we’re working in partnership with Sainsbury’s in Balham. We were delighted to be selected as their Local Charity Partner for 2014-15 and are working in partnership to raise awareness and support for our projects in Wandsworth borough.

Certitude and Sainsbury’s are working together to deliver peer-led Life Skills presentations to young adults with learning disabilities in Wandsworth. We have delivered a similar programme inTower Hamlets and look forward to bringing this programme to schools in the borough. Sainsbury’s Local Charity Partner Scheme has been running since 2009 and to date has raised over £6 million for local charities.

Through support from Sainsburys, we are also planning to extend our existing Travel Buddies service within Wandsworth. This service supports people with learning disabilities to get used to using public transport – the ultimate aim is that they’re able to use buses, trains and the tube without our support. Most of our Travel Buddies have a learning disability, and the service currently operates during office hours only, but we’d like to extend this to cover evenings too so that those we support can experience London’s nightlife too.

We are also aiming to recruit more carers under our Shared Lives scheme. Shared Lives is a service whereby an adult with a disability lives with someone who supports them within their own home. We don’t have as many Shared Lives carers as we’d like at the moment and through our partnership with Sainsbury’s we’re planning to recruit more, extending our service and providing support to more people in Wandsworth.

Read about our in store launch here.

If you would like to find out more about our community fundraising initiatives, contact Sam at

The future of disability

“How far we’ve travelled, and how far we have to go…”

The future of disability

Solidarity in a CrisisRead our article by Victoria Rugg, Certitude’s Head of Communications, on page 51 on Why co-production is vital in supporting people with disabilities, citing Solidarity in a Crisis as a case study.

The Future of Disability is a collection of essays demonstrating both how far we’ve travelled and how far we have to go before we can truly claim to value disabled people in our society, published by Demos, Britain’s leading cross-party think tank, who produce original research, publish innovative thinkers and host thought-provoking events.

Certitude recognises and celebrates staff achievement: The Excellence Awards 2014

Winner of the Michael Rosen Award
Lucy Harrison, winner of the Michael Rosen Award

Almost 150 people from across Certitude attended a glittering awards ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 13th November to share in the achievements of colleagues, taking the opportunity to say how much we value and appreciate one another.

The awards, now in their fourth year, were set up in recognition of a former Chair of Support for Living, Michael Rosen. After Michael’s death in 2008 Certitude felt the Awards, and in particular, the Michael Rosen Award, were a fitting way to honour Michael’s memory and celebrate the exceptional staff who work for Certitude. Aisling Duffy, Certitude’s CEO, hosted the event, which recognised the often unsung achievements of staff in enabling people with learning disabilities and mental health needs to overcome barriers, build healthy relationships, communicate in meaningful ways, and get the support they need to achieve a good life.

The Awards are now an annual occasion where we recognise and celebrate the individuals and teams who go that extra mile. People who are such an inspiration and make us all feel very proud to be part of Certitude.

Our winners were chosen by a judging panel consisting of Board members, Michael’s wife Sheila Rosen and Certitude’s Leadership Team members. The panel were thoroughly impressed by all the nomination and yet again had a tough decision choosing the final winners!

This year, we increased the number of award categories to recognise even more people than ever before, and we’re delighted to reveal those who won, plus films of the winners, with staff talking about why they felt their colleagues should deserve recognition:

Best Colleague Award:

This award is for those colleagues whose work is admired, respected and at times loved!

Winner: MARGARET (MAGGIE) GALLIVAN  Maggies film


Hewitsons Best Volunteer Award:

Making a difference to people’s lives through the giving of their time, talents and experience.

Winner: SANDRA JOSEPH  Sandra’s film


Making a Difference Award:

This award is about making an on-going and positive difference to the lives of people we support.

Winner: KEVIN EDWARDS Kevin’s film


The Change Maker Award:

Nominees for this award have transformed peoples lives by finding solutions, overcoming barriers and not giving up. The standard was so high that we have two winners for this award.


182 Crofton Road’s film


Harrow Outreach film


This award recognises the outstanding contribution of a person or team in making a significant difference to the lives of people we support.


Lucy’s film

We heartily congratulate all our winners and runners up! Find out who won our previous awards here



Christmas Cards!

Earlier this year we ran a competition for people we support to design Christmas cards to sell through local shops and our website. We were absolutely inundated!

We had Christmas trees, shooting stars, plump puddings, fat turkeys, fatter Santas, mountainous piles of presents and a conga line of festive penguins with little hats on. If that doesn’t say Christmas, then frankly we don’t know what does. The standard was incredible and we want to thank everyone who entered, you’re all stars.

Here are our absolute favourites:

andrei-thomas-small bath-and-vic-santa-small christine-taylor-small rachel-aldis-small sabina-laker-small

It was very difficult to decide on just five designs for the cards, but we think these ones just about pipped it, many congratulations to the winners: Andrei Thomas, Rachel Aldis, Sabina Laher, Christine Taylor, Susanna Woollam, Anne Clarke, Rebecca West and Alexander Widomski! The winning cards are available in packs of 10 of the same design for £3.75, plus postage at £1. Click below to order, or print off an order form here. Terms and conditions of sale are here, please make sure you read them before placing an order.

Cards are left blank for your own message.

Card Options

All proceeds from the sale of these cards will help Certitude provide personalised support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs across London.

Once payment has been received, the cards will be sent out via 2nd class post and be with you within 3-5 working days

Ealing Club Night

music night-2

Following our mighty nights at the Hootananny in Brixton, we’re topping up our Oyster Card…

Ealing’s Drayton Court will play host to our first West London club night on 20th November. We’ll have DJs spinning R&B, Hip Hop and chart, as well as local band I Love Thunder bringing the noise with a live performance.

7-11pm, fiver on the door, fully accessible with our own bar! Whether you’re someone we support, you work for Certitude or none of the above, it’s a really decent night out, so come along and see what we’re up to.

If you’d like to volunteer, get in touch with Sam Mason or Tom Davidson via, we could always use a bit of help on the night.

Connect & Do: Corinne’s experience

Connect  Do Joined circles postcardCorinne first found out about Community Connecting through the Carer’s Hub, and contacted Certitude’s Community Connecting independently to register her interest in getting involved.

Week 1: At week 1 Corinne and her coach sat down in a local pub to explore her interests. After looking at the Connect&Do website Corinne expressed an interest in joining a local jewellery making class. Corinne was accompanied by her Community Connecting coach to the first jewellery class. She enjoyed this very much, and began to attend regularly.

Week 6: At week 6 Corinne decided that she would like to begin participating in a local gardening group that she found herself on the Connect&Do website. She was happy to attend by herself. 


Corinne now takes part in the jewellery-making class and gardening group regularly. She is keen to join a runner’s group that regularly jogs in Brockwell Park. She has started jogging by herself to prepare.


Corinne has made good friends with people who are part of the jewelry class.

Through the gardening group she has also met some people with experience of caring for people with learning disabilities. With this group she has valued being able to share her experiences of looking after her son, and feels less alone in her caring responsibilities.


From an early stage in her coaching journey, Corinne was able to look for opportunities independently using the Connect & Do website. She is now proactive about finding groups and activities that she is interested in joining.

Corinne has developed a more positive outlook. She now recognises the good things in her life, such as the fact that she is a loving and caring mother of two “beautiful sons.”  She is keen to move forwards rather than remaining fixated on problems she has experienced in the past.

In the past Corinne struggled to trust other people, but she has grown to be more open and now believes that there are people out there who would be happy to help in times of crisis.

To find out more about what Connect & Do could do for you, visit

Connect & Do – creating connections for improved health

Improving lives, connecting communities and reducing demand on health and social care services Connect & Do

Connect and DoConnect & Do is an online social networking tool which helps people connect to others around them and engage better with their community.

Developed across six boroughs in London (Lambeth, Southwark, Bromley, Ealing, Hounslow and Brent), it’s a one-stop place where users can find a range of activities, hobbies and groups to suit their interests in the area where they live.

Why Connect & Do?

Connect & Do is an easy-to-use and accessible tool specifically, but not only, designed for people with poor health and well-being to be able to play a more active part in their community. Connect & Do aims to support people with a shared experience of loneliness and social isolation to feel connected to where they live.

We know that people we support can find it difficult to feel fully involved with their local community. This online tool is a way for people in these circumstances to re-connect with the people and places around them.

As an organisation, we believe that people we support have assets— personal capacity, talents and aspirations that can be unlocked through simple conversations and connections with others, through joining in and offering to help other local people and groups too. We work alongside people to form connections with ordinary community activities and resources.

Connect & Do enables people to connect with others around shared interests so that friendships can form. These are more likely to be sustainable, because people have things in common.

Find out more at