Ian Austin MP

Independent MP for Dudley North


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Dudley North MP is backing Shared Lives - a scheme to help adults with additional/complex needs across Dudley to remain in the community.

Carers are given training and then are paid to open up their home and support people to lead as independent life as possible and stay connected with the local community.

Currently, there are approximately 14,000 people being supported up and down the UK in this way.

The Camphill Village Trust scheme is nearly a full year into their new contract and have already set up 12 Arrangements, receiving over 70 enquiries for a variety of additional support needs from learning disability, autism, mental ill health, through to older people and hospital discharges.

The Shared Lives scheme is currently in in the process of assessing a further six new households with another 5 in the early stages to add to their existing 35 households.

New Carers like Chris and Nicky from Kingswinford who were recently approved by an Independent Panel and carefully matched with Alex, as part of a long-term Arrangement.

For Alex this has meant getting used to new family routines to further develop his independence, who benefits greatly from the Shared Lives scheme.

Alex said:

“Where I lived before, I was getting up when I wanted and eating ready meals every day, but I’ve got lots more things to do now and I’ve learned how to cook my favourite meal, Spaghetti Bolognese…plus I’m hoping to go to college as well.

“Now, just a few months on, Alex has really grasped the opportunities that have been presented to him, he has settled well into the family set up and is flourishing within his new environment.”

Shared Lives Carers, Chris and Nicky, added:

“Before Alex was matched to live with us, he was leading a quite unfulfilled lifestyle. I think it would be fair to say he did not have certain life skills that we possibly all take for granted.

“All we have offered is our time, experience and knowledge, so it’s very satisfying when people say they can already see a change in Alex.

“That’s when it sinks in, that we are providing a nurturing and caring environment for Alex to develop the skills, which will one day will enable him to lead an independent life of his own.”

Registered Manager, Kate Morgan commented:

“Shared Lives offers opportunity for those people with the right values and commitment to develop a social care career and earn up to £29K annually as a self-employed Carer…it’s such a rewarding role which really challenges the assumptions of what can be achieved within an ordinary family home.”

Ian Austin said:

“It’s great that Camphill Village Trust are able to offer this unique model of care which is able to help so many people locally.

“Shared Lives not only provides innovative housing and support options but also offers people the chance to lead the life of opportunity they deserve whilst remaining in the community.”




Dudley North MP Ian Austin has backed a community campaign to feed hundreds of local children over the summer holidays.

He dipped into the Good Causes Fund he set up when he refused to take the MPs’ pay rise and donated £300 to back the Holiday Café, co-ordinated by The Friends of Grange Park. 

The Rotary Club, the Community Forum and local businesses Klick Business Solutions, Thomas Dudley LTD and MET Recruitment all donated money to support the project which provides tokens which families exchange for a children’s meal and a drink in a network of local cafés.

Lunch On The Run, Gather, Bake ‘n’ Butty, The Coffee Shop, Fountain Arcade Café, have all supported the project and provided a range of meals to suit all tastes, and give children in receipt of the token a hot meal.  In the first 10 days the project served 90 meals, which goes to show the need we have in Dudley.

The project will run throughout the school holidays and it is anticipated more than 300 meals will be provided to hungry children.

Ian Austin said:

“It is a scandal that projects like this are needed at all in this day and age, but more and more families are struggling to make ends meet or being hit by benefit cuts and lots of children are going without a square meal, so well done to Cathy Bayton, the Friends of Grange Park and local businesses for helping out.

“I always thought it was unacceptable for MPs to have a big pay rise when times are so tough for many local families and I’m keeping my promise to use the money to support good causes instead."

Cllr Cathy Bayton, one of the ward councillors for St James said:

“We trialled this at Easter and it was huge success so we decided to roll it out on a larger scale, but without the fantastic support of local businesses, The Rotary Club, MP Ian Austin and the Community Forum fund this would not have been possible."

Andrea Childs, CEO of Klick Business Solutions, praised the innovation of the project, saying:

“We like the fact that the money goes straight to the aim of the project – feeding children – there are no administrative costs”. 

Karen Paskin, Chair of the Friends of Grange Park said:

"We know that nationally families, are struggling to make ends meet over the summer holidays. 

"There is data, from The Child Poverty Action Group to say that 70% of children who are living in poverty live in a family with one or more adult in employment. 

"In St James’s Ward in Dudley North, 35% of children are living in poverty so we thought the Holiday Café Project would help to alleviate some of the pressures families are under.”



Dudley North MP Ian Austin took time out to help celebrate the first anniversary of the Beacon Centre for the Blind's "FabLab".

The lab provides those who are blind or living with a visual-impairment the opportunity to develop new skills.

It helps people with sight loss to learn state of the art digital and design skills to help their confidence and find employment.

Trainees are able to learn about 2D graphic design and 3D modelling, printing methods, laser cutting, and engraving.

Any income from sales of products manufactured in the Fab Lab are pumped back into the charity. You can read more about the Fab Lab here: https://www.beaconvision.org/fab-lab/

Austin caught up with Lisa Cowley, the centre's Chief Executive and former Goodyear worker Cyril Barrett, who runs the 5/344 Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund which has donated a huge amount to good causes in the Black Country.

Ian Austin said:

“The Fab Lab is a brilliant initiative to help those who are blind or visually impaired get the skills and confidence they need.

"Cyril is a great man - he and his former colleagues from the old Goodyear Plant have donated a huge amount to good causes in the Black Country.

"They use money from the 5/344 Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund to help local charities."


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