Meet Sarah Havard, Chief Executive – Better Together, Shared Lives Scheme for Newham and Havering

I’m Sarah Havard and I run the Shared Lives schemes in Newham and Havering. Most of my working life has been in Hackney until I started working with the Shared Lives scheme in Newham in May 2013.

Shared Lives is a scheme where somebody who needs adult social care support who might go into supported living or residential care comes instead to live with a family. These families are known as Shared Lives carers and are paid for the arrangement. We recruit families who are interested in having someone come and live with them and offer them support and training.

We match together families and adults who need a home, this may be a long or short-term arrangement. It might be until the adult is able to live independently or alternative arrangements are made. We monitor the arrangement to make sure everyone is happy, and things are working well.

I did a degree in textiles and whilst at university during the holidays I got a job working with children doing arts and crafts. After finishing university, by chance I went into youth work working with young people with learning disabilities. I then moved on to work as a sessional worker for an organisation working with adults with learning disabilities and then got a permanent job as a support worker working in their day services. I moved on to more senior roles within the same organisation and eventually became part of the senior management team.

I have worked in adult social care for 26 years. I have mainly lived and worked locally. I was able to work part time whilst my children were growing up. As the children became older I wanted to stretch myself and did my Masters in Voluntary Sector management. Once finished I began offering training and consultation around personalisation and worked with a wide range of organisations across the UK. I did this for a while but soon realised I wanted to come back to be more hands on adult social care. Something was pulling me back. I wanted to work nearer home with a few people to really see the difference I was making for them.

I saw a job advertised for Newham Council as a Shared Lives Manager. I had no experience of Shared Lives but knew I had the experience and skills working with adults who had social care needs, and that I wanted to be working locally.

My role now is to manage a small not for profit business called Bettertogether which runs the Shared Lives schemes in Newham and Havering. I manage a small group of officers, who each support about 15 Shared Lives Carers. I make sure we are meeting CQC regulated standards and that the people we support are happy and safe and living good lives.

As a manager of a small business I also make sure that we get paid on time, so that staff and the families are paid. I make sure we are following policies and procedures and that we are legally compliant. I report to a board of volunteer Directors who make sure we are running the business well and in accordance with regulations and standards. They give me guidance about where the business should be heading.

I am the Chief Executive of an organisation and in five years time I imagine I will still be here, as I feel I am still learning.

Top tip
Do something that you love, work with people you enjoy working with. If you are working in a role where you are supporting someone then you need to bring something positive to that relationship.

If you would are living in Newham or Havering and are interested or want more information about becoming a Shared Lives Carer email: