The Westbury family using their spare rooms to care for people with learning disabilities

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There are calls for more households to consider caring for people in their own homes in Wiltshire.

The Hartigan family, who live in Westbury, use their two spare rooms to care for John and Zack who were both homeless before moving in.

Gemma Hartigan was a carer for 15 years, she says she enjoys caring for people with learning disabilities and giving them the support they need to move on to independent living.

She said: "I think the benefits are that they can live the lives that they want to live but we are that safety net, they can come to us if they are a bit worried about anything and that's day or night we're always there to help them along.

"Also a lot of people that maybe come into Shared Lives they might have had a really unsettled childhood and transition into adulthood.

"And I think it's really beneficial having a stable family home that they can see what a healthy relationship, family looks like."

Zach Church says being part of the Shared Lives scheme has saved him Credit: ITV News

Gemma's husband Bradley says supporting John and Zack has been really rewarding.

He said: "It's nice just to know that you can help people that have had potentially quite traumatic pasts so it's just good to see them thriving in a safe environment in like a family atmosphere and then to see them go from that back to getting their own place - it's great."

Zack Church, 25, was sofa-surfing before moving in and says sharing a home while being supported by carers has made a big difference.

He told ITV News: "It's been pretty rough at times, I'm not going to lie - it's been up and down with mental health.

"I have noticed a difference, it's helped me a lot and helped me survive. And sort of helped me through so much, I'm grateful I'm here."

Shared Lives is a national scheme which is run through the council in Wiltshire and is one way of helping ease pressure on care homes.

Wiltshire Council says it wants more households to consider taking part in the paid-for service.

Cllr Jane Davies, the Cabinet Member for the Shared Lives, said: "We are also now offering a hospital discharge service so that somebody who needs to come out and stay with a family or a person for a few days or a few weeks whilst they get back on their feet.

"They can learn those basic skills in a supportive environment."

There are around 50 Shared Lives carers in Wiltshire and Cllr Davies says they want to recruit an additional 25.

Cllr Davies added: "It's an incredibly popular service, some of our most vulnerable adults are in supported living but they would really like to live with a family or a person at the heart of the community.

"That's what we want for people with additional needs, is for them to have their best lives.

"We want people to have that opportunity and part of that is about living in a normal house, in a normal street with a family."

The service also helps alleviate some of the pressure on the social care system in Wiltshire, as there is a shortage of carers in the community, especially for those leaving hospital and those living in rural parts of the county.

To find out more about Shared Lives visit the Wiltshire Council website.