Imagine if instead of staying in a residential facility, or being supported by a team of Support Workers, you could choose to become part of a real family. That is the essence of Shared Lives.

Shared Lives carers open their homes so that adults with mental health needs can stay with them either short or long-term (the service also includes options such as short breaks, respite and day support).

Originally, Shared Lives was introduced as a service to support adults with learning or physical disabilities, but as it has grown it has proven to be a hugely effective method of support for people experiencing mental ill health as well. In fact, in the last year alone there has been a 23% increase in the number of people with mental health needs using Shared Lives.

What sets Shared Lives apart is the family aspect of support. By sharing their life with carers and their families, service users build strong bonds built on trust and consistency. It is a relaxed environment which supports independence and encourages people to grow, safe in the knowledge that they have someone who understands them and who they can confide in.

In York, Shared Lives is provided by a local charity called The Avalon Group. Avalon’s work is supported by City of York Council, who since 2018 have committed to growing the provision of Mental Health carers across the city.

If you are looking for support for someone with a mental health need, give Avalon a call and we can talk you through the options that are available. The Avalon Group are also recruiting carers, and encouraging anyone who may be interested in the service to get in touch with them. No previous experience is necessary as full training is provided as part of the carer approval process (training includes Mental Health awareness courses and bespoke Shared Lives Mental Health workshops).

You can contact either Helen Ward or John Ward at The Avalon Group, by calling 01904 693104. Alternatively you can email or

You can find out more about Shared Lives by visiting