My name is Yvonne. I'm a live-in support and care leader for a house named Creelha and 2 flats where we support independent living for people with learning disabilities.

L'Arche is a very special, weird place where I got to live and work with very special people. What brings me life and joy in my role is witnessing the change that L'Arche helps bring out in people.

One of the most precious transformations I have ever witnessed was of a lady I shared life with for the past 9 years. When she moved to L'Arche, she lacked some of the basic social skills you need to live with other people. But she has become a deeply caring woman, and living with others now comes naturally to her. 

But it isn’t always easy. One of the biggest challenges I face as a house leader is navigating in the social care system we currently have. Especially the way mental health care for people with learning disabilities is set up, which isn't always enough to provide them with the support they need.

On top of that, we are going to be four assistants down by January. If we can't fill the gaps, one option would be to hire expensive agency staff - in which case, the staff worker doesn't always know the person well enough to provide the best support. And failing that, it will be my responsibility to step in and fill the gaps.

When we can't find enough assistants, it means people we are supporting don't always get to do things they love. Moreover, if you are living with people all the time, it is also important to time away from the house. That is not always possible.

My biggest fear at the moment is the Omricon variant and what another lockdown would mean for us. However, I hope that everyone can sit around the dinner table together soon, and enjoy themselves without needing to wear face masks. Our house really does come to life when we celebrate together.

When things are really hard, it is just about surviving. But there are life-giving moments too, such as when I can sit down on the sofa with Ingrid, one of the women we support, and enjoy Strictly Come Dancing together and a glass of prosecco!