A former foster carer is in line for a major award after throwing a lifeline to adults with learning disabilities.
Liz Hughes from Holyhead, on Anglesey, is shortlisted in the Wales Care Awards for her work as part of Gwynedd and Anglesey Shared Lives Scheme.
She opened her doors to adults with learning disabilities after working as a foster carer for more than 20 years and has helped transform lives.
For the last 12 years she has worked as a Shared Lives Enabler with Anglesey Council. Liz shares her home with two young ladies, aged 29 and 33, with learning disabilities.
Her dedication to the role has earned her place in the award finals in the Promoting Fulfilled Lives category.
Liz said: “During my years as a foster carer, I looked after many children. Some came just for respite care, others were long term placements.
“Some have become like an extended family. It’s lovely to see them set out on their own life journey.
“Unfortunately, there are many young adults out there who simply can’t make it on their own. Their learning disabilities prevent them from leading normal lives and it’s been rewarding to see the two-young ladies who live with me come on leaps and bounds.”
One was a young lady who turned up on her doorstep nine years ago and lacked basic life skills, and confidence and needed support to overcome these difficulties.
Now confident and happy, she is an ambassador for the Shared Lives Scheme and speaks up at national level for adults with learning disabilities.
Liz added: “It’s been wonderful to watch the transformation in the ladies. They go out to the cinema and on holiday with their friends and also play an important part in their local community.
“It’s a busy home, we have some shared interests that we will do together but we also give each other space. The ladies like spending time in their bedrooms watching Sky TV, listen to music, watching Netflix.
“The girls also like doing things independently with their friends.
“It’s not been easy but patience truly is a virtue and I would recommend the Shared Lives Scheme to anyone looking for a rewarding role.”
Liz feels that her role as a foster carer helped her to do a natural progression to becoming an enabler within the Shared Lives Scheme.
Shared Lives manager Lowri Matulla praised her ability to ‘turn lives round.’
She said: “Liz has offered as life-line to people who would find it hard to live on their own. Years ago they would have been in institutions and it is people like Liz who help them reach their full potential by offering kindness and support.”
Wales Care Awards winners will be announced at a ceremony at Cardiff City Hall on November 17.
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “The event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.
“It is a pleasure to honour the contribution of all the finalists. Each and every one of them should be very proud of their achievement.”
Always a swish event, the awards will be hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.