A blog post from Jackie Pollock, Chairperson of Carrickfergus Junior Gateway, reflecting on one of the most romantic things she has seen this year.

Space - we all need it.

Those quiet moments in the day where you can be alone with your own thoughts or the personal time for just you and your partner to just be together. However, what if you have a learning disability?

Statistics already show that young people with a learning disability don't have much socialisation time. Where does your personal space come from then - especially if you only see your partner at the local social club?

Personal time in a crowd - sounds like a nightmare doesn't it? 

People watching you - always.

Expected to be part of the group - always.

We need to change this as leaders- to be respectful and mindful of the couples that we have in our midst and to allow them that space to be, even though we may always be at hand.

Our group recently went to a local restaurant to celebrate Chinese New Year. As we were walking back to catch the train one of our couples dropped back just trying to put a bit of distance between them and everyone else. Bringing up the rear, linking arm in arm walking and supporting each other - just seeking the space to be in the moment together.

Logic would have seen me hurry them up, encourage them to rejoin the group - after all we had a train to catch. Instead I found myself dropping further back behind them - still watching, still present but allowing my members to have some space and just be.

I think it might be one of the most romantic things I've seen all year.

So space - can we provide it?

I think so and we have a duty to our members to make sure we do!

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