I am the mum of a little boy called Conor, who avails of respite in the Children’s Sunshine Home. Conor is now eight years old and it has now been four years since we started to use this wonderful respite. I can remember when Conor started school, the social worker there suggested The Children’s Sunshine Home, as she thought it might be of benefit to me and my family.

At the time I also had a one year old daughter. I do not have my family living near me and none of them ever felt confident enough to take Conor to give us a break. Shirley came to see me in my home and explained to me how respite worked. She suggested that we could maybe start off by leaving Conor for a few hours and that all Conor’s needs would be met as they would be at home. I was very reluctant to take it a step further. I felt I was meant to do this alone and that it was unfair of me to get someone else to look after Conor.

Over the first three years of Conor’s life, I had got so used to not having a break and never having anyone to mind him. At the same time as a parent, I felt very overwhelmed by the responsibility of the situation. I did not want to do it alone anymore and felt that The Children’s Sunshine Home could give me that much needed break. I went to visit Shirley at a later date in The Children’s Sunshine Home. I brought Conor with me; this gave me a better insight into the service.

Even to see the building, the bright dining room, and the cosy bedrooms and meet the friendly staff and to see the other children in the physio room made me feel more comfortable about the whole thing. Conor now stays for three nights at one time. I always feel I can phone anytime to check on him. For me it has meant that I do get that break and we can do normal family things with my other children. I don’t feel trapped by the situation any more, and it has made me a better parent for all my children.

Sandra, Conor’s Mum

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