THE Westmorland Give Them a Break campaign aims to raise £20,000 to give carers much-needed respite. This week Celia Powell speaks to a mum about what it means to be a carer for her son.

A Milnthorpe mum says she has had to fight for all the help she receives for her son who suffers from epilepsy and autism.

But all the pressure has been eased since she was introduced to the South Lakeland Carers charity.

Janette Phillip’s 19-year-old son Archie is like any other teenager. He plays the piano, enjoys watching Doctor Who and his favourite board game is Scrabble. But from the age of six, Archie was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Janette, an artist, said that the family could not leave him alone in case he had a seizure.

“His episodes can vary between a couple of minutes to up to and hour.” she said. “Archie can’t control his surroundings, and we have to be by his side constantly.

“For example, what if he suddenly had an episode and walked out on to the road and into oncoming traffic?”

The Gazette’s Give Them a Break campaign seeks to raise awareness of the work of South Lakeland Carers, which provides practical and emotional support and advice for 1,250 unpaid carers across the area.

Janette is grateful for the service that the charity gives. She said it offered good respite and gave Archie access to a different person he could bond with.

“It’s a flexible system and usually our carer comes around every month like clock work,” she said “While the carer and Archie do something together, be it to watch television or play a board game, this gives time for me and my husband to go out for a meal.

“Their services are useful and they give you a bit of time you wouldn’t normally have.”

Janette said she and her husband relied heavily on their two sons, who live outside of Cumbria, to come and look after Archie if they needed to travel away for work.

The campaign aims to raise £20,000 to give up to 200 carers a one-night break at a local hotel. It is also seeking to encourage people to volunteer as counsellors or as volunteer ‘sitters.’ It would allow some carers to have a three-hour break each month.

“People don’t understand you’ve got to think ahead” Janette said. “You can’t drop your things and go be sociable.”

Janette hopes the Gazette campaign will help other parents become aware of the services that South Lakeland Carers provide.

So far the campaign has reached nearly £2,000 through donations.

To donate to the Give Them a Break campaign, complete the coupon (picture three)  and return it to Mike Addison, Give Them A Break, The Westmorland Gazette, 1 Wainwright’s Yard, Kendal, LA9 4DP.

Please make cheques payable to ‘Give Them a Break.’ Or you can donate here: