The pioneering 'Shared Lives' scheme that has been praised for transforming people's mental health

A 23-year-old from Gwent who was admitted to hospital after suffering a mental health crisis has praised a community support scheme, saying it has transformed her mental health.

Last year, Nikita Filer was offered the chance to continue her recovery while living with a local carer, instead of in hospital.

Despite being skeptical, Nikita was paired up with Maggs Evans through the Shared Lives scheme - a local government scheme that offers inpatients at mental health units the chance to move into the home of a carer living in the community.

During the four months that Nikita lived with Maggs are her family, she received support that she said she couldn't get in a hospital environment.

The pair would do gardening, go shopping and hang out - something that could not happen when she was an inpatient.

While living there, she continued to have regular treatment while getting invaluable personal support from Maggs.

Nikita said she can't thank the scheme enough for the change it has given her.

Since leaving Maggs' house, Nikita has lived independently, has finished her college training, and is looking for a job.

The pair still talk every week and are very close.

When asked why Maggs does this, she explained that by being there for someone you can make a huge difference in someone's life.

She said: "You can make such a difference to somebody, just by being there for them, just by caring, just by understanding them."

The Shared Lives scheme has now been recognised by the World Health Organisation as an example of good practice.

The people behind the 'Shared Lives' project say it is transforming lives.

They said: "Nikita’s life has changed beyond recognition following her Shared Lives arrangement."

There are currently around 1300 people in Wales supported by Shared Lives.

Maggs is encouraging others to "give it a go" and "make a difference in someone's life."