Our Governance

New Directions was formed in January 2007 and is wholly owned by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council. The organisation is governed by a Board of Directors with strong backgrounds in social care, health, local authority, and business.

The role of the New Directions’ board is to contribute and drive the strategic direction of the organisation, ensuring the company remains financially sustainable, whilst meeting the needs of the people and families its supports, providing high-quality services.

Portrait of Dil Daly

Neil Daly

(Who calls himself Dil)

Dil was born in Liverpool in 1961. He went to the Bluecoat School in Liverpool and then attended Universities in Liverpool and Sheffield where he gained an honours degree in Zoology and the Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He has also been awarded a masters level qualification in Strategic Management.

Dil has lived and worked in Aylesbury, Sheffield and London before returning to the North-West 20 years ago. He has worked in the private, public and the third sector. For the majority of his career, Dil has been the CEO of charitable organisations working with older people in London and Merseyside. Dil has also been the CEO or Chair of a number of social enterprises including a national social enterprise called advant~age, which helped charities to trade in commercial products and financial services. Latterly Dil has become the Lay Member for Public & Patient Engagement for Southport & Formby CCG.

Dil is passionate about innovation in health and social care, and ensuring that users of services are central to all aspects of service design and implementation.

Dil lives in Southport with his wife, daughter and a Wheaten Terrier called Roy. His leisure interests are watching Liverpool FC, listening to music (in particular attending as many live gigs as possible) and role-playing.

Portrait of Sandra Palmer

Sandra Palmer

Sandra Palmer has extensive experience in Director and senior leadership roles in the private and government funded sector, leading work in business strategy, organisational development, transformation, communications, marketing, and stakeholder engagement. Sandra is a Consultant Director for Corporate Culture Group and has over ten years experience leading large-scale project and consultancy work for national and global clients which involves working with Boards and senior leadership teams. Prior to this Sandra held several Director roles for United Utilities, including Strategy & Marketing Director and was Director of Public Affairs for a government agency.

Additionally, Sandra is a non-Executive Director and Chair of Governance & People, for Plus Dane Housing, which provides social housing and support for people and communities in Merseyside and Cheshire. She has also been a non-Executive Director for Our Life, a social enterprise that provided community based public health services, and a trustee Board member of Sefton Park Palm House.

Sandra highly values the essential support and services provided by people working in care, and witnessed the compassion and dedication of her mother and grandmother who had long careers in care services.

Portrait of Judy Hardman

Councillor Judy Hardman

Cllr Judy Hardman was elected in May 2022 as a Sefton Labour Party councillor to represent Sudell Ward. She is also a parish councillor representing Sefton and Lunt. As a Councillor, Judy’s responsibilities include sitting as a member of the Licensing Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Children’s Services, and she has recently taken up the role of observer on the Board of Sefton CVS. 

Judy is a registered social worker and during her working life has worked with adults and children. She began her career in Liverpool Catholic Social Services where she was a research assistant on a project for people with learning disabilities, and she has maintained an interest in learning disability and in evaluation of services. Judy was an Assistant Director with Action for Children, a national charity, between 2000 and 2010 and during this period developed an understanding of delivering commissioned services and reporting to different Boards.

Since 2010 Judy has worked independently in a range of roles, which have predominantly involved carrying out service reviews, audits and training for different local authorities. She is an accredited Safeguarding Peer Reviewer with the Local Government Association. Her particular passion is helping social workers and managers demonstrate and measure quality outcomes. Judy hopes to use her interest in evaluation and quality to support the work of New Directions.

Portrait of Glen Williams

Glen Williams

I am Glen Williams and have been the Branch Secretary for Sefton UNISON for 15 years and active for over 30 years currently holding various senior regional and national positions within UNISON.

My background is in social work and I am still a qualified and registered practitioner in the out of hours social work service. For several years I lectured social work law and practice whilst also gaining a PhD in that particular field. I started working for Sefton Council in 1987 and believe I have a detailed understanding of local government, Council services and the area of social care. 
As an experienced trade union official and an observer to the New Directions Board, I try to bring challenges and the perspectives of the workforce as well as seeking to ensure the ongoing viability of a transparent and successful Council owned company. I have lived in Sefton all my life and believe I know what our residents expect of social care services so am also able to bring a local knowledge to the Board. I am also an active Member of the Labour Party and hold local positions within Sefton Labour Party.
I am an extremely keen sport enthusiast with running, swimming, cycling and playing squash being amongst my daily exercise (not all on the same day!).
Portrait of John Graham

John Graham

John has almost 30 years of NHS experience having worked for a variety of organisations – and is currently the Chief Finance Officer – at Tameside and Glossop IC NHS FT & Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Deputy Chief Executive – of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

John Paul is married to Tricia they have three grown-up children.

John is Chair of Lydiate Learning Trust and has been involved in school governing bodies for some 25 years and is an ardent Liverpool Football Club fan.

Portrait of Mark Fox

Mark Fox

I joined New Directions in 2018. Before that, I served as the Head of Service for Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council. During my tenure, I led major Adult Social Care change and transformation programmes aimed at redesigning services to enhance outcomes for the local community. Additionally, I engaged with staff teams to explore alternative delivery models.

My professional journey is guided by a strong belief in value-based leadership. I take pride in working for an organisation that shares these values, which have been designed and developed by the workforce.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and participating in activities such as football, tennis, golf, and walking.

Mark has a postgraduate diploma in Business, a postgraduate diploma in Health and Social Care Management (with distinction), and an Institute of Directors Certificate in Company Direction.

Managing Director
New Directions, 3rd Floor, Burlington House, Crosby Road North, Waterloo L22 0PJ
Telephone : 0151 705 0300

Portrait of Andrea Woods

Andrea Woods

The most important thing to know about me is that I am the mother of two very special girls. We live in Sefton and we are very proud to belong to such a close-knit and supportive community.

I believe people should all be afforded opportunities to lead lives worth living. This philosophy has guided my practice since I joined New Directions in 1986 as a Care Assistant. I progressed into my current position as Head of Operations through lots of hard work and the successful completion of various in-house vocational qualifications. The support of a range of colleagues across different teams was critical to this progression. I have worked with many, many wonderful people, through hard challenging times and equally through good times. Some of my most enjoyable moments have been at parties and celebrations with the people we support. Along the way, I also acted as UNISON Branch officer for New Directions, which afforded me opportunities to develop my understanding of the challenges staff face working in social care, and equally, provided me with a skills-set to strengthen New Directions commitment to being an employer of choice.

My goal going forward is to ensure that New Directions functions as a social care provider of choice in Sefton, leading on innovative best practice to support the most vulnerable in our community. I am passionately committed to supporting New Directions staff. I am very proud of the work they do, and the general contribution we all make to the wider community of Sefton.
Every decision I make, in my work or in my personal life, is based upon an agenda to promote social justice and community solidarity locally, nationally, and internationally.
Looking to the future, I am confident that New Directions will continue to act as the catalyst for all that is good and positive about social care provision in Sefton.

Portrait of Adam Drury

Adam Drury

I have worked in adult social care for over 20 years. My background is in Human Resources and in 2008 I was outsourced from Sefton MBC to a private company called Arvato. During my time with Arvato I registered for an in-house management development programme and gained a range of new skills in a variety of areas to enable me to progress my career. This involved extensive training in project management, general business and mentoring by various senior managers across the Company. The transition from working in the public sector to the private sector was challenging, however it was a real ‘eye-opener’ in terms of how commercial companies operate. I changed job roles during this time and moved into project management. This was a very interesting job role and I was able to work on several exciting world-wide projects, travel to different places and meet new people. This exposure helped me to gain a wider understanding of the daily operations of a multi-national organisation. I was very grateful for the opportunities provided by Arvato and I was able to complete a master’s degree in Human Resource Management in 2014. 

I joined New Directions in November 2016 and I was fortunate that I had some pre-established relationships from my time in Sefton MBC. This enabled me to hit the ground running as I already had a good understanding of the services provided and the challenges we faced. When appointed as the HR Manager for New Directions, I worked very closely with the Operations Team to gain more in-depth knowledge of the services we provide. In March 2021 I applied for a post as Operations Manager and I was delighted to be appointed. The reason I changed job roles, apart from a new challenge, was that I felt I could have a bigger influence on the Company in this team and that I could potentially enhance our services for the better. In the limited time I was in Operations I feel as though I achieved aspects of this and was heavily involved with the ‘recovery’ of several key services. The relationships I established during this time remain strong and I will sincerely miss most aspects of the job. 

I have recently been appointed as Interim Head of HR and given my time in Operations; I believe I am well-placed to implement the Company’s strategic objectives. With my understanding of Operations, plus my extensive HR experience I aim to deliver a responsive and customer-focussed HR service to all in New Directions. I will be working closely with all services to ensure HR solutions implemented meet our immediate and future requirements.

To say I love the work we do in New Directions would be an understatement. To have the ability to enrich someone’s daily life is not something you can put a price on. I am passionate about our company, our values and the people we support.

No one could have predicted what has happened across the world in the previous two years and I am immensely proud of the way we have responded to the pandemic. Hopefully, brighter days are ahead as lockdown restrictions have subsided and we can return to some form of normality.

On a personal note, I am a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and enjoy playing and watching various sports. I also participate in a range of outdoor activities, but with these limited during lockdown I turned my hand to gardening. I find this a very therapeutic activity that enables me to switch off from the outside world. I also appreciate the reward of the hard work later in the year when the flowers, vegetables and fruits make all the physical work of gardening worthwhile. Sharing the fruit and veg amongst family and friends has whet the appetite for some of them to start gardening.

Portrait of David Lill

David Lill

I am a Management Account (ACMA) with twenty-plus years of qualified experience working in a variety of commercial and not-for-profit organisations. I joined Sefton New Directions after spending three years heading up the finance function of the Brothers of Charity Services in Lancashire, another provider of essential Adult Care Services operating for the benefit of the residents in Chorley and beyond.

Previously I have worked with Knowsley MBC within its Sure Start Programme (aimed at improving the well-being of children aged four and under and their families) and, for six years with Liverpool Vision Ltd, the City’s Urban Regeneration Company, tasked with leading the City’s physical transformation in the new millennium. I worked there at a time of unprecedented progress – a period which saw the huge Capital of Culture programme in 2008 and the funding and opening of the Arena and Conference Centre among many notable successes.

Other positions included commercial roles working within the Chemicals industry in Runcorn and almost ten years as Financial Controller with the largest independent Reprographics companies in the country.

I aim to bring the combination of expertise and experiences gained to help New Directions become the provider of choice within Sefton.

As a resident of Sefton, and after hearing of the excellent reputation and seeing the good work undertaken, I jumped at the opportunity to work with the talented Senior Management Team leading finance here at New Directions.

I join (December 2022) at a time of unprecedented challenges with the need to match excellent care and the support of some of our most vulnerable adults with budget constraints caused by pressures on our main funding partner (Sefton MBC) and rising staff and other costs caused by inflation.

However, against this challenging backdrop, I believe in the organisation’s core values: – People Focused, Big Hearted, Count on Us, Together as One and its desire to become the provider of choice and will work tirelessly to ensure the continued success of the organisation.

I lead a small but dedicated and experienced Finance Team but, just as importantly, want to be a visible member of the whole organisation, partnering with colleagues to help maximise funding and offering advice and expertise as required.

Away from work, I am a family man, with one teenage son and whilst I enjoy travelling, I can often be found on a Sunday morning cycling the paths and tracks of our borough and beyond. That, of course, assumes no home game and as a season ticket holder at Anfield (following in the steps of my father and grandfather who were born and raised in Bootle and were passionate football supporters since pre-war times) attend all home games of Liverpool FC.

expand the role of the organisation.

Portrait of Paul Sheron

Paul Sheron

My employment background is working within learning & development across three different learning providers. Initially employed as an IT Tutor, completing a Certificate of Education enabled me to develop my skill set in this field to focus on the principals of learning and applying them to practice. My principles to learning include:

  • Put learning at the forefront of everything that you do.
  • Embrace a top-down approach to learning.
  • Ensure that learning supports business objectives.
  • Provide learning in innovative way.
  • Make learning a valuable experience.

For the last twenty years I have worked for a leading training provider linked to numerous health and social care providers. Throughout that time, I have held several positions including quality control, curriculum & compliance manager and Designated Safeguarding Lead. Skilled in operations management, coaching and mentoring. I am passionate about learning and strive to ensure the quality of training and development delivered to those who work in the adult care sector is exemplary.

I aim to bring my skills and expertise in the learning & development field to enable New Directions to fulfil their vision to be a learning organisation. Also, to complement the existing four core values and embed learning as the fifth value.

Outside of work I follow an active lifestyle. I enjoy running, and strive to get out a couple of times a week. I find that this is a positive way to clear my mind after a long day. I am married with two teenage children, and a Shih-Tzu dog. I recently hung up my football coaching boots after coaching my son’s team for 11 years. My weekends are now spent on the sports pitches of the North West watching my daughter play rugby and son football in a parent capacity.

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Portrait of Paul Cummins

Paul Cummins

Cllr Paul Cummins has been Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care for the past eight years. He has represented Church Ward (Waterloo and Seaforth) as a local Labour Party Councillor between 1992 and 2003, and from 2006 until present. In the Municipal year 2011/12 he was honoured to be the Mayor of Sefton.

Paul holds a number of positions for Sefton in addition to his Cabinet role. He is Sefton’s Mental Health Champion and Older Person’s Champion. He is a member of the Health and Wellbeing Board, Co-Chair of the Transforming Care Partnership Board for people with Learning Disabilities, Deputy Chair of the Corporate Parenting Board, Chair of the Special Education Needs and Disabilities Continuous Improvement Board, Chair of the Adults Forum, Chair of the Dementia and Carers Strategy Groups, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Health and Social Care Portfolio Holders Group, and a member of the Sefton Coastal Partnership Board. In addition, he is a Local Authority appointed School Governor at St Edmund and St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School, and Rimrose Hope Church of England Primary School, where he has been Chair of Governors over many years.

Away from Sefton Council, Paul is a Non-Executive Director at Primary Care 24 (Merseyside), and a Trustee/Director at Sefton Council for Voluntary Service, Waterloo Community Association and Waterloo Town Team. Paul had an extensive career in teaching, social care and community safety and is now retired from full-time employment, having been a Senior Manager in the voluntary sector and local government, having worked for Nugent, National MIND, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Sefton Carers Centre in addition to working for himself as a Consultant and Trainer, including working for Futurebuilders England. Paul was educated at St Mary’s College, Crosby, Liverpool John Moore’s University, Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Paul is married to Carol, who has worked extensively as a Manager in Adult Social Care, for many years for Sefton Council, and currently Halton Borough Council. They have three grown up children and nine grand children who keep them busy. Paul is an avid birdwatcher, lover of real ale, ardent Liverpool Football Club fan, and is active in his Church.

Paul acts as Sefton Council’s Shareholder Representative for Sefton New Directions, and is passionate about the delivery of high quality and personalised Adult Social Care. He believes that Sefton New Directions has a vital role to play in the delivery of Social Care, and has the potential to extend its portfolio of services and meet the needs of many more people, through innovation and initiative.

Portrait of John Kelly

Councillor John Joseph Kelly

John is a qualified social worker who has over thirty five years of experience of working in the front line of services twenty five of these at Director and Executive Director level in local authority social services and in the NHS. He has additional post graduate qualifications in mental health and prior to retirement was Executive Director of Operations for a large specialist mental health Trust in the North West of England. John believes that services should be developed and provided with the active involvement of service users, Carers and staff. He has been a board member of Sefton New Directions for four years.

Portrait of Liz Dowd

Councillor Liz Dowd

Cllr Liz Dowd has represented Ford Ward (Litherland) as a Sefton Labour Party Councillor since May 2018 and is Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Regeneration and Skills. Liz also holds a number of other positions on Sefton Council and is a member of the Audit and Governance Committee and the Public Engagement Panel.

Liz has also been involved with many voluntary organisations, including those providing support to vulnerable people.

For the past 25 years, Liz has worked at senior management level in the NHS and holds post graduate qualifications in health and public sector management.  She has expertise in commissioning services for children with complex needs and working across health and social care to integrate services and improve outcomes for service users. Liz believes this experience is particularly pertinent to her role as a Board  member of New Directions in both the delivery of existing services, and the future potential to expand the role of the organisation.

James' Story

New Directions is my full-time life – everything I do, the people I meet, the friends I have made and most importantly the independence and confidence I have now are all because of New Directions.

For me, Thomas, and all the other people here, Shared Lives is more than just a service, and I know because I have used many others.
The teams at New Directions make a difference. I am not the same person I was before I came here. I love going to the New Centre Stage Performing Arts Group, and I enjoy the drama and entertainment for everyone. But I wasn’t like that before.
Earlier this year, I helped put together a presentation for the National Care Forum. I got to go to the conference and talk in front of the whole audience about our ideas, which I couldn’t have done before.
I am learning how to deliver safeguarding training for Shared Lives members to help us stay safe online. I would not have been able to create this, let alone deliver it to other people, without the support and confidence-building from the New Directions staff and my Shared Lives Carer.
Of all the things that I can now do, thanks to all the people who have supported me across the New Directions Teams, one thing stands out: my voice. Not how I speak but what I say. I am listened to by everyone at New Directions, from my Shared Lives Carer to Mark, who runs New Directions.
I am called an Expert by Experience, but really, I just give them a piece of my mind, and they listen and act. We are all Experts by Experience, and our voice counts.

Annie's Story

I never thought I would ever say a broken bone was a blessing…but if I hadn’t badly broken my leg and my old respite service couldn’t accommodate me, I would have never found Poplars!

I chose to go to the Poplars on an emergency placement. I enjoyed my stay so much that I decided to go to Poplars from then on. And I have been coming for over seven years and I always have the most amazing time. My mum loves it too, as she knows I am having a great time and so can relax  while I am here. I used to message her a lot, when I was away, but I am too busy when I am here.

I stay throughout the year and always  during New Year – and this year we had sparklers, mulled wine, and lots of other fun things to see in 2024.

The staff are good at making sure Poplars is welcoming and full of the right things for me. I like to go out to town, out for lunch, have my nails done and go to the cinema.

We just got a new bath which has all sorts of jets and coloured lights – and a stereo in it as well! I love having a soak in it and a head massage – and have recently redecorated all the bedrooms.

The only things I would like is a bus so we could all go to Blackpool Zoo – the chimpanzees and lions are my favourites – and a change to the rules that mean I can’t work here and still be a guest. I would love to work here with the team, in the office. But I do my best to help, making brews for staff.

The phrase ‘break a leg’ certainly turned out lucky for me!

Impacts & Outcomes

Our service increases the length of time someone is able to remain in their own home rather than move to residential care. The respite offered to family allows them a better balance with more rest and freedom to pursue own interests . Many service users were on the brink of moving into residential care when joining us; this has been significantly delayed, or they still remain with family

Our supported people develop independence; one learnt how to eat independently again with the use of adapted equipment.

We support rehabilitation and work with other professionals to offer a multi disciplinary approach, promoting good physical and mental wellbeing.

The knowledge of staff and connections to other professionals provide holistic approaches, for example accessing equipment at home to maintain independent living, for example, referrals to Occupational Therapist.

Waterloo Park gives both the people we support and their carers peace of mind as they trust and feel safe within the service, and can continue to work or provide childcare to enable their children to work, whilst their relatives are at the Centre.

Our Service is utilised as respite for carers and family members and also reduces the need for multiple care visits throughout the day.

Intergenerational projects have allowed younger and older people the chance to socialise, this has been very beneficial for those with dementia as they recall past relationships and roles, often caring for younger people as if they are their own child. We have a close relationship with a local primary school and those funded by Sport England and the National Lottery

We regularly receive calls from relatives in despair unsure how to access services, we are happy to support these and signpost them into the right direction. , offering advice on how to make Adult Social Care Referrals. We often receive calls a few weeks later thanking us for our guidance and positive stories on the support the family now receives.

Continuous Transformation

The criteria to attend Waterloo Park has changed to meet the needs of the local community. Referrals from ASC have included anyone over the age of 60 who have additional support needs including learning , physical disability, early stage dementia, social isolation , acquired brain injury and autism.

To adapt and meet changing needs we have refurbished the building, adding a large accessible bathroom with closomat toilet,shower, changing plinth and overhead tracking. A fully accessible garden with shelter, updated security to ensure outdoor spaces are safe for all to use

We have purchased extensive equipment, mobility aids and adapted furniture to promote independence, comfort and safer handling procedures.

With our person centred approach, we have sought advice and purchased items for individuals to improve their physical , mental well being and communication

In addition, our staff undertake a wide range of training to ensure we offer a safe environment with competent staffing, they undertake mandatory training and have opportunities to access more specialist courses covering specific disabilities or health conditions

The Service provides a person centred assessment and care planning process with emphasis on goals and outcomes for our users.

Over the past few years, we have networked with many other organisations and our centre is often accessed by other agencies. Sefton Memory Clinic may book rooms to meet or care agencies have used our shower room if no equipment is available in-service users’ homes.

We now use a wide range of technology including apps , social media platforms and assisted technology to enhance users experiences

Continuous Transformation

During Covid Brookdale operated with a new focus on fewer people supported but with more severe or advanced dementia and more complex needs. Brookdale has since risen back to a much higher number in attendance of twenty-two places per day and is looking to increase those numbers further. 

Staffing levels did not go down with the reduced case load; the more complex needs of the people supported are now provided by 1-1 and 2-1 care.

This is supported by enhanced person-centred care planning and continual individual assessment of needs.

As the complexity level increased, Brookdale recognised the need for additional support for carers, friends and families and introduced carer involvement programmes as well as a carer support group – the latter includes a dedicated carer support hotline which carers can receive advice, help and assistance on days the person supported is not visiting Brookdale.

A renewed emphasis on partnership working with MerseyCare and SMBC social care teams has allowed a stronger integration between health and social care providers, the person supported and their carers, friends and family.

A clearer focus on outcomes has been introduced, with measurable outcomes tracked and assessed with care plan changes made as appropriate.

Carers’ satisfaction and quality audit questionnaires have also been introduced to measure progress and satisfaction with care as judged by carers, friends, and family. Feedback is integrated into new service provisions.

This follows the needs of Sefton Council, and the services offered are usually co-produced to provide value-for-money services for complex needs.

The co-production ethos has also been introduced to all stakeholders, including carers, friends and family and other agencies we work with. We also signpost families needing additional support to external agencies.

We are placing an increased emphasis on prevention and intervention, maintaining mobility and independence, and thus reducing care packages and costs to Sefton Council.

Continuous Transformation

People supported at North Hub are presenting with more complex needs and care packages have transitioned to mostly one to one and one to two supported person/carer relationships.

This follows the needs of Sefton Council, and the services offered are usually co-produced to provide value for money services for complex needs.

The co-production ethos has also been introduced to all stakeholders, including carers, friends and family and other agencies with whom we work. We also signpost families needing additional support to external agencies.

We are providing a increased emphasis on prevention and intervention, maintaining mobility and independence and thus reducing care packages and cost to Sefton Council.

New activities added over the last few years include rebound therapies, independent living skills, sensory therapies and hand’s on sessions (touching fabric swatches and various objects).

Additional emphasis is being placed on outdoor activities, both at the extensive garden area at North Hub as well as the New Leaf facilities in Southport.

Short Term Respite

Day Centres

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Andy's Story

I would be dead by now without New Directions. Now, I am engaged to be married, about to move into supported accommodation (not 24-hour care like I have now) and most importantly I am now back in contact with my two amazing children again.

My story is familiar – mental health issues (‘catastrophic depression’ a health care professional said once) combined with alcohol dependency. However, unlike too many people in similar circumstances to mine, my story is still being written with the help of the team at Woodlands in Bootle. And I can’t wait to see how the story turns out!

In terms of time, my journey to Woodlands was relatively short but I seemed to have packed a lot of heartache, misery, loss and destruction into it.

In 2017 I had a great job, was on good money and living with my partner and our two young children, a boy and girl, in a three-bed house in Southport.

Then in a couple of months, I lost it all; I had to move out from my family, I lost my job and was living in limbo. This lasted until 2018 when my partner made the split very final, including no access to the kids.

I don’t know if I had issues with my mental health before then, or if my good life was masking symptoms, but depression came on with a vengeance.

So much so I was admitted to the Hesketh Centre mental health service five times – including once for more than year locked up in that place.

During all this, my mum died and I somehow got – and kept – a flat in Southport. It was outside this flat that my journey to Woodlands began.

Not sure what actually happened, but I guess I was beaten up outside the flat; I woke up in the emergency department.

It was while I was in A&E that my social worker rang Woodlands and basically said you either take him in an emergency respite order or he’ll be dead before Christmas.

And it really was just before Christmas when places should be winding down, but the Woodlands team immediately agreed to welcome me – black eyes, broken ribs, bruising and all.

Emergency respite turned into normal respite and then after about a month I became a tenant at Woodlands. And I have never looked back!

It’s coming up to Christmas again now, and I can look back on what Woodlands has done for me and what the team means to me.

From the most basic of things when I arrived, they helped me find clothes – not easy when my favourite colour is orange! – food and personal items; then they worked out what medications I was on and really (really) encouraged me to take them as I should.

They then helped me with my benefits, got me to work out – and pay – my debts and showed me how to manage my money going forward.

The team do regular reviews which give me a great insight into how I am doing and what I can improve – one of things we agreed that needed improving was my impulsiveness (buying those orange clothes…).

The team also encourages a real sense of community at Woodlands, and I have met so many friends as well as my future wife Maria, who is also here at Woodlands.

With their help, I have tried to make the community even better.

The team allows me to organise day trips for my friends and tenants of Woodlands, and we have been to Chester, Blackpool lots of times, New Brighton and Wales.

The other tenants wouldn’t be able to do these trips without me. I have become a mentor to the other tenants.

Which brings me to this Christmas, when I leave in the New Year I am still going to be a mentor at Woodlands because it means so much to me and I want others to have the same life-saving experience I had at Woodlands.

There are some rocks in the garden that need painting in the summer, and I will come back to do that. I will always come back to Woodlands.

Painting a few rocks is nothing compared to the amazing new chapters of my story that Woodlands gave me.

I haven’t had a drink in a year, my progress is so good that my ex-partner has allowed me to text and talk to my kids, and I am going to get married (not until August 2025, Maria wants a long engagement – but that is a story for another time).

Thomas' Story

I just want everyone to know how independent I am now. That’s what living in Shared Lives has given me. I go swimming, go to the gym, play football, do drama productions and lots of other things. I am part of my community – and I can make my own cup of tea. I can do my washing, and put it away, but that isn’t as much fun.

So about me. I  have been living in Shared Lives with my carer Joe for eight years now. I used to live with my dad and brothers in the family home before, but there was lots of disagreements that could get out of hand. I am a very happy, sociable person who loves to have a laugh and a joke and loves bantering with people, I never get angry and when others do it makes me very sad and unhappy – I don’t like to be sad and unhappy!

I have trouble seeing and hearing, and have a condition called Bardet-Biedl syndrome which means I have a lot of health issues I need to deal with and I really need to work hard to stay healthy and fit.

When I do go out, I have a white stick to help me get around. This was something else Shared Lives helped me with. Joe, my carer doesn’t have to hold on to me and guide me around outside anymore and in my house I can find my way round.

I love my house and my carer Joe, he is always there for me and I love to have our little chats about different things, and especially love how we can have a laugh together we spend a lot of time laughing and joking around – I told you I do love to have a laugh and joke.

Shared Lives really helps me with this. My Shared Lives carer Joe supports me to all my medical appointments and encourages me to speak up for myself and helps me understand what is being said by the doctors. Joe has really helped me understand my condition and what I need to do to stay healthy and safe.

These things have changed my life and I am much more independent and am happy to go places and do things I don’t think I ever would have done before like swimming and going the gym, which I love. I go two times a week and have made so many friends we have a laugh and a joke when we are chilling in the sauna.

As I said, I have to work really hard to stay healthy and fit, I am a big guy but I used to be bigger.

I never really understood what healthy eating was. Joe got to know what I liked and what was good for me and since living in Shared Lives I have lost over 4 stones, my clothes fit better I have actually dropped several sizes.

I really enjoyed picking my new clothes in smaller sizes this was a great achievement for me. I loved buying my LFC tops I am a huge Liverpool football club supporter! I think without this help my health problems could have been a lot worse.

The technology Shared Lives has given me has also helped me to keep in touch with my family and friends. I love to talk to people on my mobile phone or FaceTime on my iPad.

I can do this by myself I just need a little help from Joe’s daughter Sophie to set up my assisted technology and then I’m off phoning people all by myself!

I have an Echo that I talk to and ask to put on songs I like to sing to, I love singing at the top of my voice, letting all the neighbours hear my lovely singing voice – me and the neighbours have a good laugh about my singing.

If there was one thing that showed how independent I am now it would be the NCF (National Care Forum) conference this year.

With my friends James and Glenn we created a presentation for the conference all about our experience in Shared Lives, what it means for us and what it has done for us.

Without the confidence and independence I now have, together with the technology I now use, I don’t think I ever would have been able to work with my friends to create a presentation that made such an impression.

One last thing I want to tell you is I am the happiest I have ever been and me and Joe are the A Team!

Glenn's Story

Glenn came to Shared Lives after the unfortunate loss of his father. He is a very creative person who loves writing and gardening. Glenn told us about how writing on his iPad helps him organise his thoughts and feelings. He also talked to us about how online safety safeguarding training helped him feel more confident when using the internet.

Hannah's Story

Halloween was amazing. I had a party at my house and I invited all my friends in supported living. I thought of the theme for the party, went out and bought all the food and sweets! I opened the door to the Trick or Treaters every time they knocked and had a chat with them and gave them their treats. No tricks this year.

It has not always been like this, not close. I came to Poulsom Drive (one of Supported Living’s tenanted homes) five years ago from my family’s home. I wanted to be more independent from my family and live in my own home.

I can get upset and angry at times but I didn’t know that it could make it so hard to make friends. Since living at Poulsom Drive they have helped me work out ways to cope with anger and bad feelings which usually make me shout and swear.

I didn’t like feeling angry, the only way I can describe how it made me feel is by telling you my mind feels crumbly and I struggle with how to handle the rest of my day.

My emotional wellbeing has really improved and I know how to stop things getting out of hand. When it does feel like it might, I now go for a walk around the block by my house or listen to relaxing music.

One of the best things that living in Poulsom Drive has given me is the ability to know what others may be thinking or feeling. And I know that no one really likes it when my passionate nature (their words!) comes out so my relationships with the other tenants in Poulsom has really improved.

Understanding what other people think and feel, and what I need to give and to take to make a relationship work, is probably my biggest achievement at Poulsom. I now have a wide circle of friends, and a boyfriend, and I have a community in which I play a big part.

These friends were the ones I invited to my very first Halloween party this year, and we had a blast!

Poulsom has also helped me discover lots of other things about myself and things I like to do. I have my own part of the garden, which I look after throughout the year.

In summer, there is nothing I like better than sitting in my egg chair in my garden, chatting to the neighbours.

And I bought that egg chair – a great thing about Poulsom and New Directions is the support they have given me to be independent, especially with my money.

I now understand my benefits and how to manage my money in my bank account, and how much money I have got and what I can afford to buy. But I have also learned more about what bills I must pay and how to pay them using my account.

As I said, I could get very upset and angry but in truth, I was sometimes reacting to how other people saw me – and talked about me. My support staff encouraged me to get involved with MENCAP, this is where I met my boyfriend and lots of new friends.

I enjoy going to MENCAP, and with them I have been involved in a HATE CRIME awareness session for school children, to help them understand how words can be hurtful to people with learning disabilities like me.

I can now express myself to these young people, I can now make friends and have a boyfriend, I now have choices and make my own decisions.


I can now take part in my community and when I do get upset I can now go for a walk or sit in my chair in the garden until the upset goes.


I know that if I am not happy with something, I can tell the managers and they help me get it sorted – I feel I am listened to and that’s so important to me.

No tricks at Poulsom, just treats for me now. Thanks to everyone.

James' Story

New Directions is my full-time life – everything I do, the people I meet, the friends I have made and most importantly the independence and confidence I have now are all because of New Directions.

For me, Thomas, and all the other people here, Shared Lives is more than just a service, and I know because I have used many others.
The teams at New Directions make a difference. I am not the same person I was before I came here. I love going to the New Centre Stage Performing Arts Group, and I enjoy the drama and entertainment for everyone. But I wasn’t like that before.
Earlier this year, I helped put together a presentation for the National Care Forum. I got to go to the conference and talk in front of the whole audience about our ideas, which I couldn’t have done before.
I am learning how to deliver safeguarding training for Shared Lives members to help us stay safe online. I would not have been able to create this, let alone deliver it to other people, without the support and confidence-building from the New Directions staff and my Shared Lives Carer.
Of all the things that I can now do, thanks to all the people who have supported me across the New Directions Teams, one thing stands out: my voice. Not how I speak but what I say. I am listened to by everyone at New Directions, from my Shared Lives Carer to Mark, who runs New Directions.
I am called an Expert by Experience, but really, I just give them a piece of my mind, and they listen and act. We are all Experts by Experience, and our voice counts.

Jean's Story

Jean my stepmother has advanced dementia, and has been supported by the team at Waterloo Park three days a week. In addition to the usual exceptional care she receives – she is given choice, she is given dignity and most importantly she is given empathy – the team at Waterloo Park may have recently given her the gift of life.

Jean’s deterioration has been huge in the last six months and the team have changed the care package as needed, such as 1-1 care at home time, as Jean can get on the wrong bus, manning the gate when she goes out for a cigarette, helping keep her safe when she wants to give out teas, taking her into the community which is not an easy task, and constantly reassuring Jean to stay at the centre when she is always trying to “pick her kids up ” or visit her (late) mother.

The team are great at adjusting her care package as her needs grow and change, but she still gets to smile when she is at Waterloo which is totally down to the total care of the staff.

Recently, Jean attended the day centre when she obviously wasn’t very well – she had been acting a little different which we as a family had noticed a couple of days before and we took to her GP and was told it was probably the side effects of her medicines.

Later that day I received an email off the manager of Waterloo Park, Michelle, using lovely caring words just making sure we were aware of the changes in Jean’s behaviour that the staff had noticed in one visit to the centre!! How on the ball is that?

A few days later, Jean again went to one of her sessions at Waterloo Park and became more unwell. She was vacant and shaking. The team alerted Francey the activity lead who knew straight away Jean was unwell and not herself.

Francey has a very good relationship with Jean, and she and another member of the Waterloo Park team, Lynn, took Jean to a quiet place for her own privacy.

Lynn believed she may have an infection based on her behaviour – by this time Jean couldn’t carry her own weight. Michelle made the decision to call an ambulance.

The whole team worked together to notice, to alert, to plan and to arrange care via NHS – and Francey made a caring professional call to myself to update the family.

Jean was taken to Aintree hospital where she was diagnosed with an infection and admitted.

Waterloo Park doesn’t specialise in dementia, but the care is second to none, they know Jean inside out and detected she was ill when her GP didn’t!!

The paramedics did suspect sepsis at one point and this is life threatening but rest assured if any resident at Waterloo Park is in any danger or risk the staff will assist to the highest level and give total quality of care.

I am eternally grateful to all the staff at Waterloo Park who don’t just do a job, they have a vocation to the people they support and as a family, we will never be able to repay them. Truly a huge thank you to each and everyone of them.

As Told by His Mum

Ben's Story

I can’t believe that it’s nearly a year since I first met with Paula and her team at North Hub, part of Day Services at New Directions, to talk about Ben.

Ben had been through quite an ordeal at his last centre and I really didn’t think that I would ever be able to trust anyone with my precious boy ever again.

Then Ben was lucky enough to get a placement with the North Hub and you and your amazing team changed all that.

Ben has been welcomed with open arms into a world that understands him, that embraces his cheekiness, celebrates his uniqueness and engages with him fully.

The timetable of well-thought-out activities put together for Ben enables him to have so much fun whilst still keeping his mind and body active – rebound therapy, swimming, sensory play, and intensive interaction to name but a few.

The team are always happy, encouraging and enthusiastic and seems to enjoy these activities with Ben as much as he does.

What you have achieved with Ben in the short space of time he has been with you is nothing short of phenomenal! His confidence has rocketed, as has his independence and his communication skills are improving day by day.

The Hub itself is fabulous, light, bright, and spacious with wonderful artwork adorning the walls it really feels like a welcoming warm safe space, not to mention the delicious smells from the kitchen that makes your mouth water.

When I see the wonderful setting you have I can see that it is all thanks to a dedicated, professional and knowledgeable team who are always approachable and happy to help with anything we may need. I know that when I walk away and leave Ben with you that he is safe hands and living his best life.

If I had to sit and draw up a blueprint for the perfect day centre provision it would be the North Hub!

So huge thanks for everything that you have done and everything that you provide for Ben, you really have an amazing service and you should be so very proud of what you all achieve everyday. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.

Pat's Story

We have our mum back, and it is both unbelievable and incredible.


Pat was diagnosed with dementia a year or two ago, and from that point on, she went downhill very quickly. Before Brookdale, Pat struggled to find purpose – or even to get out of bed. If she spoke it was to say she wanted to die.

But as I say that was before Brookdale. After being recommended Brookdale by a number of people, from friends who had loved ones supported by the service to Pat’s health and care support network, we looked at what the day service had to offer – both for Pat and for our family.

From the staff to the bright, warm, uplifting environment and beautiful gardens – when the Ainsdale sun shines – everything at Brookdale is fixed solely on providing the best possible experience for the people using the day service.

We started coming to Brookdale twice a week, but now we come every day as the difference it has made is simply breathtaking. She is indeed now independent and has had such a dignified, caring experience that we have our mum back.

She is laughing and joking, and she has made so many new friends. She actually knows she who is now, and who her family is – which is both a great relief and heartbreaking that before Brookdale she was so lost.

She is recognising places and people she had no idea or recollection of before, and the family interaction we now enjoy (again!) has meant so much for all of us.

I don’t have to say that living with someone with acute dementia is hard, as pretty much all of us knows a loved one or friend who is in the same spot, but the transformation in Pat has brought a joy to everyone who knows her.

If your parents or loved one have dementia, please, please come and look at Brookdale. The staff here are nothing short of miracle workers.

The work they do, the care they give has been a real lifesaver for Pat and for us.

The difference you will notice in your loved ones will be unbelievable – and I am speaking from first hand experience.

Christine's Story

After I retired as a Headteacher in a lovely primary school in Bootle I started to drive a pharmacy van delivering medicine and other supplies to care homes around Southport. Some were better than others; imagine my surprise when I found myself being supported following a leg amputation at one of the best ones I used to visit!

I came to Chase Heys on discharge from hospital after an emergency leg amputation – only just below the knee, but I think my horse riding days are behind me – and I knew it was the best place for me not only because of how I remember it from my van driving days but also from the immediately warm, friendly, and caring way the team welcomed me to their ‘home’.

A home which became my home for 16 weeks – although the great work of the team means most people’s stays are much shorter; I do like to be different!

I was at a very low ebb when I arrived at Chase Heys, and I don’t shy away from the fact I was indeed suicidal.

The pace of change really affected me, as it was only several days from seeing a GP to having the operation – removing a piece of me.

I know that the average stay at Chase Heys is a matter of days or at most a week or two as people get ready to go home after coming out of hospital. As I always like to be, I was different.

I had to wait for my prosthetic leg to be built, and I had a considerable amount of physiotherapy to undergo. But this extended stay quite probably saved my life, saved me from doing something that couldn’t be undone.

I am a firm believer in fate, and I think I was destined to come to Chase Heys to learn some lessons.

The first was that I was not alone. The team at Chase Heys was looking after lots of other people in similar situations as me – and having a great time doing it, both the staff and the people they were caring for.

I could have been a recluse, sitting alone in my room. Both staff and my peers encouraged me to emerge from my room and from then on I was hardly back, enjoying the company of new fast and firm friends.

The second was to accept, and indeed embrace, what had happened to me. I didn’t think I could cope with a missing leg, but the entire team really showed how resilient I could be.

Even the physical layout of Chase Heys played a part in my rehabilitation and my emotional wellbeing; I have been free to move around, both in the wheelchair and on my prosthetic, and have the biggest or smallest amount of space to explore that suits me at the time.

That sense of independence from being allowed to move throughout the building is unquantifiable.

I am safe at Chase Heys and I am looked after so incredibly well and I know I wouldn’t have been remotely as accepting of my situation anywhere else. But it is time to go home, back to my two dogs and my cat.

I have been away too long from them, but without the team at Chase Heys, I don’t want to think about how much longer it could have been for them.

Pam's Story

We are a short-term assessment service which is goals-led; we support and encourage people to become as independent, confident and capable as they were before whatever health emergency meant that they needed our help.

We are Reablement and Rapid Support, and I am proud to be a reablement worker in that team. I wanted to share what our team as a whole achieves for the hundreds of people who need our help every year.

The main reason for looking at what the team and I do lies with the nature of our service – we can support people from as little as a one-off visit or one to two-day sessions through to extended support while care packages are being put into place.

A person’s journey with Reablement and Rapid Support usually begins with a referral from our close colleagues in Sefton Council’s social care team.

They arrange with our Care Coordinators a plan of care following the person being supported either being discharged from hospital or from the community as part of hospital avoidance.

The next step on the road is to understand what the person in our care needs – and wants – and how their physical environment can help or hinder that progress.

This assessment, undertaken for the most part by our excellent team of Trusted Assessors, feeds into the completed care or goal plan.

Somebody once asked what my day was like, and I said ‘like no other’. Each day, even with the same person being supported, is unique and different.

In a nutshell, we offer a specialist service aimed at both helping people to recover from a health issue and to live a full life once again in their own home.

We break down what they want to do themselves and see how we can help them achieve those goals.

It could be as simple as making a cup of tea or prepare a meal in their own kitchen, or have assistance or support with showering. And some days they can do it, and some they can’t.

But we are there to provide holistic support regardless – on the days they can’t, I don’t automatically do it for them but I gently encourage and coax them to make that cup of tea, prepare that meal or have that shower.

Together, we have the same goal – to boost independence, confidence and the ability to manage on their own, in their own home. And to make them independent and proud of what they have achieved!

When they achieve their goals – however lofty or more basic – my job is done. I delivered an outcome that the person supported said they needed to achieve, and through that enabled someone to live independently, confidently and happily in their own home – a reablement achieved by a problem-solving, solutions-driven team alongside a willing partner, our supported person.