Monday, 12 March 2007

Kerry and Neil share the care

When Kerry Lewis and Neil Young began dating, there was one extra caring commitment for them both to consider...

And just as their love has blossomed, with a May wedding on the horizon, so their relationship with 14-year-old John* has flourished through their dedication as carers.

Redcar and Cleveland Council is highlighting their partnership and John's progress to promote Share The Care Week, from March 19-March 25, hoping more people will be persuaded to follow the couple's shining example.

Kerry's links with John, who has special needs, dates back nine years. She remembers: "I was giving him one-to-one care at school then he needed care at home - so I took him, took my work home! And it went from there - I fell into it, then fell in love with him."

Neil, who works for the Council as a school sports co-ordinator, explained: "I fell into the role with dating Kerry - John came with that. It was hard at first, he was a bit jealous with a new person on the scene. But now we're best friends. It's different every day - he's fun, enjoyable, like having another brother rather than being a dad."

And Kerry agrees: "He's like my little kid brother. We have him several nights a month, it's still extremely challenging, but it's really rewarding and great to see how John has developed. It makes me really proud. How long will I do it? For as long as he needs me - forever."

The Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Social Well Being Councillor Valerie Halton said: "Kerry and Neil are marvellous examples of the sort of people we would welcome with open arms.

"Foster carers who join the Shared Care scheme provide not only a break for parents and siblings, but also a different environment that offers her or him different experiences of life, which can spread horizons and improve wellbeing."

Glynis Horner, the Shared Care scheme's social worker, explained: "We have eight shared care foster carers who offer respite care to a number of families and we are always looking to recruit new carers for whom we provide training and ongoing support."

Anyone interested can ring 01642 495910 for an informal chat.

*John is not his real name.

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