CARING for a woman with learning difficulties has been one of the best decisions for one young family.

Laura and Christopher Dunn signed up to the Shared Lives scheme nine years ago and Aimee Farrant has been one of the family ever since.

Mrs Dunn, of Burford Road, Witney, said being part of the project, which finds adults with learning disabilities families who can support them.

Miss Farrant, who has learning difficulties, has lived with the couple through two house moves and the birth of the couple’s two children, six-year-old Zack and Holly, five.

Mrs Dunn, 29, said: “At first we were just looking at doing respite care, but we were asked if we would take someone on long-term and Aimee moved in straight away. And nine years later she is still with us. The best way to describe this is fostering, but for adults. She is part of the family. It is very rewarding. You know you are helping people.”

Since living with the Dunns, Miss Farrant has got a job as a cleaner at the Co-op Nursery in Carterton and has also achieved a black belt in Taekwondo.

Shared Lives carers can support disabled adults, older people with dementia, people with mental health problems and carers can look after on a more flexible basis, such as going out for coffee, to overnight stays or someone living with them – as in Miss Farrant’s case.

Miss Farrant, 35, said: “It is fantastic living here. It has helped me with my cooking skills and I go out on my own now which I never used to. When I was younger I never really had a family like Chris and Laura.”

Social worker Tiffany Burnett said: “The service gives vulnerable or disabled adults this opportunity, enabling them to live as independently as possible by sharing in the carer's family life.’’ Oxfordshire County Council, which runs the scheme, hopes to get the number of carers up to 150 as part of a recruitment drive.

Carers are typically paid between £300 to £400 per week per person. The scheme offers training, payment and on-going professional support.

There are two information sessions being held for the public.

The first will be on Tuesday from 3.30pm to 6.30pm at Charlton Day Centre, Charlton Village Road, Wantage.

The second will be on May 21, between 4.30pm to 6.30pm at Bicester Health and Wellbeing Centre, Launton Road, Bicester.

For more information, call 01865 897971, email SharedLives@oxfordshire. or visit lives.