To mark Carers’ Week, Kiama Lions has sponsored six carers to stay at their Lions Cottage for three days each.
Sandra from Gwynneville and Donna from Balgownie were amongst the first to enjoy the hospitality, which is usually paid for by the carers themselves or the programs supporting them.
Both were enjoying time away from their responsibilities looking after children with disabilities.
“You don’t realise how much stress and tension you carry until you stop,” says Donna.
“It has been great to get the opportunity to let myself go and relax. I just don’t get that normally.”
Donna considers herself blessed because family have given her the opportunity to have some time off over the last 13 years, but this is the first time she has had a break for the last three years.
“We’ve been to the shops and market, but apart from that haven’t done much at all.
“It has been wonderful!”
For Sandra, who looks after her 18 year old son who has Down Syndrome and a sensory processing disorder, it is the first time she has been away on her own since he was born.
“I’ve had respite care for him, but I’ve always stayed at home because of the cost.
“The problem with staying at home is that you usually end up doing jobs you haven’t had time to do.
“Coming away from that environment has been fantastic.”
She says having even a modicum of spare time is really unusual.
“You are constantly thinking for another person.
“You are always trying to be one step ahead of their reactions, so your brain is always on.
“Something like this where you can drop everything and come away, for however long, it is a brilliant concept.”
Although they live relatively close, they only met during their stay. Both have enjoyed the camaraderie that come from having someone who understands to talk and laugh with.
Kiama Lions restored Council’s derelict cottage in Shoalhaven St with the help of many local businesses.
Continuing this tradition, the Carers’ Week visitors have been enjoying donations from the Kiama Farmers’ Market, Meals On Wheels, Parfait Patisserie and Manning St Cellars.
Anyone wishing to sponsor a stay by other carers can find out more at http://www.lionscottage.com.au