"I live in Greenock with my partner and 3 young children and i'm currently juggling family life whilst studying at Strathclyde University. My youngest child Noah (6) is autistic and requires care and attention especially regarding social situations and interactions. 

 I received an email inviting Carers to a discussion group regarding a potential family day out. I was happy to attend and the choice of times (day and evening) allowed me to attend. The group was informal and welcoming. The staff were very knowledgeable and informative about the days out. It was a chance for me to say what kind of activity would suit our family’s needs, through chats and fun activities.  

I signed up for the trip to the Safari Park with my 2 younger children, Wren (8) and Noah. On the day they were very excited, beforehand I received emails clearly stating the plan and times for the day. The bus was suited to our needs and the journey was relaxing but not too long as Noah would not have enjoyed many hours on a bus. On the way we chatted to other families and planned our day with the maps handed out by Carers Centre staff. 

On arrival the friendly bus driver drove us round the animal enclosures allowing up close ups of lions and rhinos which was very exciting. We were then allowed the time to do our own thing, firstly we watched the sea lion show, which was Wrens favourite, then had plenty of time to look around. There were plenty of areas to eat and we sat and enjoyed our picnic. 

The boat safari to chimp island was next and Noah was anxious of the boat but after a bit of reassuring he had a wonderful experience. The park felt very safe and was well laid out, the children's play fort was a great place for Wren and Noah to play with other children while i enjoyed a coffee. 

Lastly we enjoyed a wonderful ice cream cone before boarding the bus home. Out of character Noah slept all the way home proving he enjoyed a busy day and felt relaxed, allowing Wren and I to enjoy a nice drive home. 

Overall this was a wonderful day which we would otherwise have been unable to afford, allowing us great family time together in a safe environment. For me the highlight was the break from driving on days out which can sometimes be stressful and expensive, this allowed me to be more relaxed throughout the whole day without the worry of the drive home. Noah enjoyed the gift shop and purchased a meerkat toy to remember the day as the money saved on entry fees allowed us to have some spending money. We have many wonderful memories which we can look back on through our photographs. " Caroline Gillan.