Robert Gardiner

I have always lived with my mother. When she had a stroke, she stayed in the hospital for two months. During that time, I looked after the house by myself and went to see her all the time. She is feeling better now, but since the stroke she has lost some of her mobility. She has to use a walking frame now.

During the week while I’m working, a caregiver from Nurse Maude looks after her. She dresses her and makes her lunch. After I get home from work, I take over. I cook, do the groceries, put the washing on, pay the bills and take her out. I do everything that needs to be done, and more.

We always take care of each other and keep each other company. I do the chores and she helps me to do the things I find very difficult, like reading and writing. I have learning difficulties but mum has always been there to support me. She reads and writes for me at home when I need a hand.

I work full time at Kilmarnock Enterprises. I started working there in 1979 and have been there ever since. They employ people with a variety of abilities. Some, like me, have learning difficulties. The supervisors sit down with me, talk to me and teach me many things. The company supports each person; they consider our individual challenges and train us to be able to succeed in the work environment. For example, they read for us. If there is a word or instruction that we don’t understand, they will explain it to us. If we still don’t understand, we ask them to repeat it slowly so we can figure out what they are saying. They’re always very supportive.

They also help us to learn about health and wellbeing. Every Tuesday is soup day; we can buy very nice soup for a dollar. In the café, there is information about how to eat healthy too. They also provide a variety of activities like Zumba and other sports for us to take part in. Working at Kilmarnock gives me independence. I also feel supported. It is really busy but I do like working there. I like the people. I get on with everyone really well.

My dream has always been to work full time at a Speedway. I would like to be part of a pit crew. That would give me the opportunity to take photos of the cars racing and crashing, and the firemen when they put the fires out. I would enjoy that.