How adults with learning disabilities in Sutton are being supported to realise their full potential

Published Monday, 22nd March 2021

The Shared Lives scheme funded by Sutton Council and delivered by Encompass, provides vulnerable adults in Sutton the opportunity to live with a family.

Nickel Support enables adults with learning disabilities to build on their life and employment skills. 

Sutton Shared Lives Service recruits and supports paid carers to work with adults with learning disabilities, mental health needs and older people. Shared Lives carers offer their homes and family life to provide a safe place for vulnerable adults to live, have a short break or engage in day activities.

Currently there are 31 vulnerable people in Sutton living with another family as part of the Shared Lives Scheme.

Thomas Patten, a Shared Lives service user tells us about his experience;

“I really enjoy being part of a family and having conversations and all the interactions. We have been on lots of walks together over lockdown. 

The Shared Lives service has been great for me and has helped to prepare me with the life skills I will need in future.”

Thomas is also a trainee at
Nickel Support. Nickel Support is a local social enterprise in Carshalton that supports adults with learning disabilities through a variety of sessions to develop skills and build confidence with a particular focus on employment.

Thomas joined Nickel Support as a trainee in 2016. He says;
“I love it. It has changed me. I am so much more confident now and a better person all round.”

Elena Nicola set up Nickel Support in 2012 with co-founder Nick Walsh;
“My business partner and I were frustrated with the learning disability sector and the same traditional approaches with limited positive end results. We decided to take the plunge and use our own experience and skills in the sector to create a unique service that offers support in a much more dynamic and powerful way. We set up Nickel Support and have never looked back.

Thomas came to us to improve his employability skills. We have also worked closely with him to work on positive relationships with people, as well as a number of other areas in his life, including his social well being and health in general. Supporting him in our holistic and person centred way has meant his confidence has grown so much, increasing his chance of gaining and retaining employment".

Councillor Marian James, Chair of the People Committee said;
The Sutton Shared Lives Service offers many adults with support needs happiness, comfort and the safety of living in a family home. It also provides the carers with a rewarding and positive experience - as our current Shared Lives carers tell us.

We would like to be able to offer more adults with support needs places in a family home on a short or long term basis. If you live in the borough, have a spare bedroom and a willingness to share your home please get in touch. You do not need any qualifications and will be supported with a careful matching process, ongoing training and regular visits as well as a weekly allowance. 

Nickel Support and the work by Elena, Nick and all the team is quite extraordinary. The person-centred approach to each adult they work with is remarkable and is shown clearly in how the individuals grow in confidence and skills during their time with Nickel Support. We are very proud to have such an organisation in our borough.”

For further information on the Shared Lives service or to register your interest please contact Encompass on: 020 8915 2345 or email

For further information on Nickel Support please call 020 8669 5567 or email