Unpaid carers in Wales are set to benefit from a £9m short breaks fund

Written by on 11th April 2022

Unpaid carers of all ages in Wales are set to benefit from a short breaks fund after a £9m investment from the Welsh Government.

The scheme, which will benefit from funding for the next three years, will increase opportunities for unpaid carers to take a break from their caring role.

It will support unpaid carers in Wales to enjoy regular periods away from their caring responsibilities, in an effort to prevent burnout and boost their mental and physical wellbeing.

It will help them to take part in hobbies or activities, including a chance to visit the gym, learn a new skill or de-stress by going for a walk or reading a book.

A short break could also be a trip away from home with family or friends and could also involve spending time with the person they support and care for.

Throughout the last two years of the pandemic many carers have struggled to take breaks to help them cope with the pressures of their caring responsibilities.

Restrictions during lockdown have limited where they can go and what they can do, and also meant carers were unable to access support from family and friends, leading to further fatigue and, in some cases, pushing them near to breaking point.

Taking a break, whether through support, a service or having an experience, can help unpaid carers cope with stresses and strains, helping to provide much needed rest, enjoy activities they have been unable to do and complete other day to day tasks.

It can also help them to catch-up with family and friends.

A survey of more than 700 unpaid carers found 7 in 10 carers have been unable to take any breaks since March last year.

Another survey of 1,500 unpaid carers also found more than half had to give up on hobbies or personal interests because of their caring role.

This new short break scheme, which will be co-ordinated by a third sector organisation working with others across the public and third sector, will enable more unpaid carers across Wales to have access to the right break for them, at the right time.

Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said:

“I know a lot of unpaid carers have struggled to access short breaks during the pandemic and how this has impacted on them.

“We’re investing in this respite and breaks scheme as we recognise how important these short breaks are from their caring responsibilities, supporting both their physical and mental wellbeing, and how they can have a positive impact on their lives.

“We want to make it easier for unpaid carers of all ages across Wales to access a break and by working together we believe this is the most effective way to do so.”

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Social Services Minister Gareth Davies MS said:

“The Welsh Conservatives have long argued that respite is one of the things unpaid carers value most so moves to make that more achievable for them should be welcomed.

“However, the Labour Government’s actions fall far short of a right to respite and the free access to training, support, and carer assessments that we had in our manifesto.

“Let’s not forget either than the £9m announced split between Wales’ 400,000 unpaid carers leaves just over twenty quid per person – and although the scheme is designed to target those on lower incomes, most carers, given they are unpaid, will likely fall in that bracket.

“I am glad Labour ministers are getting the message that their approach to carers is too short-sighted, but we remain commitment to introducing a scheme for young carers to provide them with free bus travel and grants to access education, training, and employment.”

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