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More businesses urged to get involved in programme to help carers.
Tourism businesses are being urged to offer a small gift that makes a huge difference this Tourism Week.
New figures show that last year the Respitality programme gave 600 carers and helpers a break from their responsibilities, such as a hotel stay, dinner or day away.
Run by Shared Care Scotland, Respitality helps the hospitality sector recognise the contribution of unpaid carers by offering them time away to recharge their batteries. With the scheme spreading across Scotland, Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing is urging more businesses to get involved.
Mr Ewing said:
"For many unpaid carers, a Respitality break is a much needed chance to unwind. I want to thank the many businesses, big and small, that are already taking part in this great scheme to reward the outstanding and frequently unrecognised work that unpaid carers do.
"Offering hospitality, be it an overnight stay or a dinner package, is a small gift that can make such a huge difference and I'd urge all tourism businesses to consider taking part."
A carer from Lanarkshire, who wishes to remain anonymous, spent some time at The Rings near Cupar, a farm diversification project which offers short breaks and holidays to visitors affected by disability. She said:
"I experienced prolonged stress in my caring role with continuous anxiety. Being able to escape for rest and recuperation was invaluable to me. The caravan Respitality organised at The Rings was a wonderful place to go. The peace and quiet of the beautiful surroundings, allowed me the space and time to try and reduce my anxiety and feel better. Moira Henderson and her family made me so welcome, it was a privilege to meet such amazing people."
Don Williamson, CEO of Shared Care Scotland said: "We are delighted with the results from the first year. The hospitality sector has been very generous, making over 600 carers feel so welcome on a well needed break. It makes such a difference and I'd be delighted if more hospitality businesses came forward to offer their services to help those who really need it."
Owner of The Rings Moira Henderson felt the benefit was mutual. Moira said: "She is guiding me on what we could do for guests with autism and is very into craft, so hopefully will show me how to upcycle some dining room chairs."
It is estimated that around 788,000 of the Scottish population have a caring role. This equates to around 759,000 of the adult population, and around 29,000 young carers aged under 16.
In 2015, Scottish Government awarded Shared Care Scotland £59,414 to fund a developer post and extend the Respitality pilot initiative. The aim is that the Respitality pilot initiative will develop into a Scotland-wide programme benefiting many hundreds of carers across the country and be an exemplar of innovative practice and partnership working. By developing a "franchise" approach it is hoped to establish the concept throughout the whole of Scotland.
The Scottish Government has committed further funding in 2016-17 to consolidate Respitality in existing regions and to enable the pilot initiative to be extended to more regions across Scotland.