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Carers Week

13 June 2011

There are millions of people in the UK who care for a family member or friend, with many spending more than 50 hours caring for a loved one each week.

Since it began, BIG has invested around £190million in over 2,000 projects that support these carers, from local support groups to larger respite schemes and strategic grants which empower carers to influence and shape policies and services that affect them.

Throughout the week on the BIG Blog we will be featuring some of these projects and giving carers a platform to talk about their experiences. If you are a carer with a story to tell, or are inspired by the stories here, please tell us about it.

John’s story

Widower John Gordon, 89, from Belfast, is the main carer for this daughter, Anne, 43, who has Down’s syndrome. He credits the Lottery-funded Caring Breaks project, which provides regular breaks for carers living in South and East Belfast, with giving both him and Anne crucial support.

“Anne goes out every Thursday night with Caring Breaks staff and I enjoy the fact that for four hours once a week I do not have to worry about her at all as I know she is in safe hands. I can make definite plans once a week, which is great. But the other important aspect is that Anne looks forward to these nights immensely and enjoys her time out socialising

“She has been going out on a Thursday night for 10 years now and I feel very at ease with the whole routine because someone from Caring Breaks picks her up from the house and returns her home. They go out for a meal before taking part in an activity such as ten-pin bowling, watching a show in the theatre or a film in the cinema, playing crazy golf or even shopping sometimes.”

John and Anne

John and his daughter Anne

Caring for Anne became more demanding when John’s wife died 15 years ago, leaving him to cope with the stresses of day-to-day life all alone. And he admits he doesn’t know what he would do if he did not have the help of Caring Breaks.

On a weekday they get up at 6.30am to allow Anne the time she needs to get showered, dressed and eat breakfast.  John has several chores under his belt before driving Anne to work most mornings.

“There are demands that come with caring for someone with Down’s Syndrome but Anne has never caused me to sit down and think that I can’t do it anymore because she means so much to me

“The two weekend trips Anne goes on each year with Caring Breaks give me some respite when I can do what I like and go where I like and my whole day does not have to be planned. It gives me a rest from having to be so organised. If I did not have Caring Breaks in my life there would be a big hole – I could not be thankful enough.”

In 2009 Caring Breaks Limited was awarded £899,130 for a new project called Natural World Challenge. Running until 2015, the project provides a range of environment-focused respite residential activities aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of adults with learning disabilities. For more information please visit

One Comment leave one →
  1. 15 June 2011 3:23 pm

    All these stories give an in-sight into what sacrifices these carers make, dedicating their lives to the life of the ‘cared for’ person selflessly.
    It is important their health and well-being is taken care of by other people, and organisations. They have to be recognised as a priority, they have to be given the credit and resources to enable them not to end up in the bracket of ‘deprivation’. 60% of carers fit into the age of 60+, and believe it or not that is the age The Carers Allowance is terminated as a benefit that carers rely on….not a very sensible decision by the powers that be???!!!!

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