Shelley (25) and Simon (28) are both part of the supported living community at Arrowe Hall, which is home to 23 individuals with learning disabilities, mental health needs or acquired brain injury.
Shelley said: “When I first moved into Arrowe Hall I was very shy, I couldn’t look at people in the face when I was talking to them, but now I am very loud and a great character to be around.
“We got engaged at my birthday party – Simon got down on one knee and gave me a ring.
“We like going out to eat together, the cinema, watching DVD’s and annoying each other. We have a hamster together which Simon keeps in his flat.
“He cooks for me so I don’t burn down the kitchen. I love Simon and I will marry him one day – I have just got to get him well trained first.”
Arrowe Hall’s service manager, Stephanie Duncan, said: “Simon has lived with us since 2014 and is passionate about Arrowe Hall, which is a very interesting and attractive stately home.
“He’s keen to put together a written record of the 181-year-old house, and is always researching whatever he can about its architecture and history.
“Shelley has brought out his romantic side, and it’s lovely to see how happy they are in each other’s company.”
Arrowe Hall is run by Regard, the UK’s fourth largest private organisation providing supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury, and has been carefully converted over the course of two years into 23 single-occupancy units.
Shelley and Simon are both looking forward to a full autumnal season of activities at Arrowe Hall, which they can be fully involved in planning, alongside the service’s new activities co-ordinator Nicola Baxter.
Nicola, who joined the service this month, will be working closely with all the individuals who live at Arrowe Hall to ensure a full programme of activities, including fundraisers, days out, sensory activities and cookery skills.
Stephanie Duncan said: “We all work closely with our service users to ensure their accommodation and the activities we support them in reflect their needs and caters for their interests. The result is a community where everyone is settled and living happily together.”
Arrowe Hall holds regular ‘speak out’ meetings, involving all who live and work at the service, to ensure the views of tenants are able to influence the way Arrowe Hall is run.
Small staff teams are provided for each individual to provide consistent care and allow meaningful relationships to develop. The staff is as diverse as the group it supports, sharing an extensive background in the health and social care sector, much experience in working with autism and mental health issues, and a passion for caring and promoting independence.
They liaise with family members regarding ongoing care and activities, and work hard with those who live at the service to integrate them within the wider community.
Plans for four new detached bungalow-style properties to be built in the Hall’s extensive grounds are well advanced. The accommodation, which will suit more complex and challenging service users, should be ready for occupation next year.