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“It gives me a good feeling inside”

This year’s Shared Lives Plus conference was co-chaired by Paul Croft, who lives in a Shared Lives household and Richard Jones, a Director of Adult Services and one of our trustees. This is what Paul told the conference – he has kindly given me permission to re-print it here:

 “Good morning ladies and gentlemen.  I would just like to say how pleased I am to be here and would like to thank John Dickinson for asking me to Chair this conference.  I think it is a great honour and am delighted to be talking to you now.

I would like to tell you just a little bit about myself and how my life has changed since I joined Shared Lives and moved to Waterloo, just a few miles from here, to live with Geoff my carer with PSS and Bob who Geoff also cares for.

I was at Derwen College in Shropshire at the time and lived there in term time studying catering and office management.  At first I went to Geoff’s in the holidays.  I really enjoyed being at college but we were supervised most of the time and had very little independence. 

When I first went to stay with Geoff my care plan said that I wasn’t allowed to access the community without someone being with me.  I remember wishing I could be like Bob, who was a train driver before his brain injury and would go off regularly visiting places round the country.  At that time I even had to be taken to college at the end of holidays even though I had made the journey many times.

Geoff realised that my life was being restricted because of this and so we started to work on this problem.

I began by posting letters at the end of our street and then going to the shops and bank on my own.  We went out together on longer journeys but when I felt ready we decided that it was time to go on the train on my own.  The station is only 5 minutes from where we live.  I have a very good sense of direction and had no problem going places on the train and also learned to use the bus. Geoff and I have discussed this and both feel this was the real turning point in my life.

When I moved into Geoff’s permanently after leaving Derwen I enrolled at a local college and succeeded in getting an NVQ level 2 in Catering.  I have since successfully completed courses with Barnardo’s St Helen’s College and I am now spending two days a week on an ASDAN level 3 course with Barnardo’s.

I have much to thank Barnardo’s for as while I was on a previous course with them my work experience placement led to a part time paid job at Halfords.  Besides providing me with extra money it gives me a good feeling inside knowing I can do a paid job.

I have lots of interests.  I love to socialise and have joined a number of clubs.  I enjoy most sports but I love going to the races.  Chester is my favourite track.  I have been camping over the last few summers and just over three months ago I met Kimberley who has been my girlfriend since then.

I am very happy in my Shared Lives placement and see this as a brilliant way of learning how to become independent.  Eventually I would like to have my own house or flat.

I would just like to finish by thanking you all for listening.  I hope that you all have a worthwhile and enjoyable Conference.”

Developing Shared Lives holidays and breaks

We are really pleased that we have been awarded Department of Health funding to develop a way of offering Shared Lives as holidays and breaks to people across local authority boundaries, in different areas of the country. There are Shared Lives carers who can provide short breaks living in seaside towns, national parks and in the heart of large cities. Others may live in areas which someone would like to visit because they have family there. The new scheme will mean that people will be able to look at an online catalogue to find out whether there is an approved Shared Lives carer in the area in which they would like to take a break or holiday. We will develop ways of Shared Lives schemes working together to ensure that the right matching and safeguarding processes are carried out before the break. These holidays will be a much cheaper and more homely alternative to visiting an expensive residential facility and we expect that some people will want to return to visit the same family year after year.

We are recruiting for a twelve-month project development worker to work with Shared Lives carers and schemes to develop matching, safeguarding, inter-scheme working and payment policies to enable safe and affordable Shared Lives arrangements to take place across county boundaries. The advert is here.

Age-Proofing Your Job Application

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It’s not about your age; it’s about how you present yourself.

Many job seekers believe they’re not considered for open positions because they are too old. The real reason their resumes wind up at the bottom of the pile has more to do with how they present themselves and their industry savvy, say recruiters and hiring managers.  (For the ten worst things you can put on your resume, click here.)

Those who present themselves as up-to-date on industry trends and fluent with new technologies will have a leg up, regardless of their age.

If you are worried that your many years of industry experience will submarine your chances of getting a job, there are things you can do to present yourself as a strong candidate, regardless of your age.

Provide the Right Kind of Contact Information

Welcome to 2011: It’s time to stop advertising the fact that you’re still using a fax machine. Providing obsolete or outdated means of getting in touch is a dead giveaway that you’re job-seeking in the past.

“Many more experienced job seekers won’t list their cell phone number, instead including home and work lines,” says Jay Meschke, president of Kansas City, Mo.-based EFL Associates, the executive search arm of CBIZ, a professional services company. Simply list your cell phone number.

The once-ubiquitous need to differentiate between “daytime” and “evening” phone numbers is no longer a concern and makes a job seeker seem harder to reach and out of touch with today’s pace of job seeking.

It’s also a good idea to ditch the @earthlink.com email address you created back in the 20th century.

“Make sure that you include your e-mail address, and that it’s professional,” says Penny Locey, a senior consultant with Keystone Associates, a Boston-area management consultancy. A Gmail account gives off a markedly different impression than an AOL or Hotmail account, for example, as does a user name that includes your name or initials and includes only a couple of numbers at the end, if any at all.

Choose Dates Carefully

When age-proofing your resume, disguising the true dates of your employment may seem like a tempting solution, but experts say that’s likely to draw more negative attention than positive.

“If the dates you graduated or worked at a company aren’t there, it makes your material appear incomplete,” says Bruce Tulgan, CEO of Rainmaker Thinking, a New Haven, Conn.-based management consultancy that focuses on integrating generations in the workplace.

Instead, consider omitting experience older than 15 years, but be careful how you go about doing this. The tactic can make your work history seem shorter, but be sure to avoid including only senior-level positions.

“No one begins their career as ‘director’ or ‘senior researcher,’” says Greg Faherty, a New York-area resume writer. “Anyone reading the resume will know you had positions before that, and they’ll wonder how far back your career goes.”

Regardless of which dates or experience you choose to include, experts say that if you want to sell yourself to a recruiter, don’t include a line about your wealth of experience in your summary.

“An age giveaway is placing your years of experience in your opening summary or cover letter,” says Faherty. “Telling someone you have 30 years of experience…is the worst way to begin your resume.”

Be Clear, Simple and Achievement Oriented

When writing out your experience in your resume, choose your words wisely.

Meschke says that older job seekers are notorious for using verbose phrases in their resumes, detailing the different tasks they’ve been responsible for throughout each position they’ve held. What’s written on a resume about experience should be clearly and simply written and should point to true accomplishments, says Meschke.

Keep It Current

Avoid being too formal with your language.

“Steer clear of old-fashioned terminology that sounds like something you’d read on a wedding invitation,” Locey says.

Don’t end your cover letter with “I look forward to the pleasure of your reply.” Be polite and tactful, but avoid cliched, formal phrasing. “It sounds like you copied it out of a book,” says Locey — older and younger job seekers alike need to be more colloquial in their application materials.

Job seekers should also make sure they’re using the most current industry terms.

“Nothing shows you’re more informed than knowing what the industry is calling something these days,” says Locey.

A few examples: Use “talent acquisition” instead of “recruiting,” or “creating executive financial dashboards” as opposed to “financial reporting to executives.”

The older terms aren’t necessarily incorrect, says Locey, but if you’re looking to appear current, you may consider including up-to-date terminology.

“Buzzwords are what help a resume get pulled,” Locey explains. “They make younger workers sound informed and older workers seem more connected to what’s going on in the industry right now.”

Don’t Try to Overcompensate

While it’s not a bad idea to make your application materials as ageless as possible, it can backfire if you take it too far.

The last thing you want to do is catch a potential employer totally off-guard. If the way you’ve written your resume makes you seem like you’re 27 when you’re actually 57, that’s not going to earn you brownie points.

“Older, more experienced people who don’t want to seem too old for a young, hip company often make the mistake of trying too hard,” Tulgan says. “If you send in a holographic resume and then you show up with grey hair, you still have grey hair.”

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