Karen Gamble, 56, and her husband Stanley live in South Belfast and have two children. Their son Peter, 35, has a learning disability. 

Peter is a wonderful man, he is the centre of our world and we wouldn’t change him for anything, but Peter has to always come first. My husband and I used to be able to get holidays on our own. This was when we had family to look after Peter, but now it’s just too difficult to arrange for the three of us to go away. 

We can’t just get up and go out, even for a walk. We can’t leave Peter sitting in the house for a short while as we once could, because now he doesn’t want to stay on his own, but we know it’s the same for other parents in a similar situation. 

Caring Breaks provides his social life. It gives him the chance to meet other young people and do different things without me or my husband being with him. 

Peter loves these breaks as this type of freedom doesn’t happen at any other time in the week. Peter feels he is doing the same thing as everyone else and going out for an evening. The peace and quiet on those evenings is wonderful, my husband and I don’t even turn the TV on. 

We get the chance to sit and talk on our own, make a meal and just sit at the table, have a glass of wine and relax. It’s chill out time, but it’s something that other people take for granted.

Peter also gets one weekend a year at Cushendall. This is the highlight of his year, giving him independence and being able to look after himself away from home. 

Getting up in the morning and thinking of yourself – in 35 years I have never had that. This is the difference between those of us who have children with learning disabilities and those who don’t. But it’s the same for all us looking after children like Peter. 

"Peter loves these breaks as this type of freedom doesn’t happen at any other time in the week” 

Caring Breaks - Carer Story

Peter Gamble and his mother Karen at home.

Carer Story - Caring Breaks Northern Ireladn

Peter and Community Respite Worker Therese Baird at Dundonald Ice Bowl during a weekly respite break.