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Carers Supported to Have Breaks

Unpaid carers in Shetland are set to benefit from an award of £3,203 made to Voluntary Action Shetland.

The money, from the Scottish Government’s Short Breaks Fund, is for distributing Grants of up to £150 to unpaid Carers who provide a significant amount of caring for another adult or are classed as a young carer (under 18 years).

Shared Care Scotland has operated the Short Breaks Fund on behalf of the National Carers Organisations and the Scottish Government since 2011. The aim of the fund is to increase the range and choice of short breaks opportunities for carers of adults, young carers and the people they care for. The fund pays for the development of new services that create opportunities for carers and their families to meet friends and enjoy leisure activities together or possibly for families to enjoy a much-needed family break away together.

Kirsten Harcus, VAS Carer Support Worker said : ‘’We want to encourage carers to take time out for themselves to recharge their batteries. This funding allows us to offer carers a grant to take a short break (or a series of regular breaks) of their choice in order to look after their own health and wellbeing’’.

A short break grant helped Joanne*, to take time out of her role providing care for her parents.

Joanne used her Short Break Grant to purchase an annual swimming pass at her local Leisure Centre. She finds swimming relaxing and refreshing. Just having a little time out to exercise makes her feel much better and she has also started going to the gym and is really enjoying that too. After her break, Joanne reported feeling less stressed and less isolated.

Joanne said ‘’ I think short breaks is such a good idea. The idea that carers are recognized and valued in this way is great in itself. It means that you prioritize taking time out to ‘recharge your batteries’, when otherwise you might not. Thank you’’. * Joanne’s name has been changed.

Kevin Smith, who provides care for his mum, also benefited from a short break grant.

Kevin used his short break grant to enjoy a weekend break at the Wigwams with his wife and two sons. They also enjoyed a meal out at a nearby fish and chip restaurant. It was important to Kevin to get some time to spend as a family and he reported feeling less stressed after his break.

Kevin said ‘’These types of grants are invaluable as caring is a huge commitment and it can completely dictate your life’’.

Feedback from other Carers who have received a Short Break Grant in the past have said :

‘’We wouldn't have had the break if it hadn't been for the grant. We really appreciated the opportunity to recharge’’.

‘’I wouldn't have taken the break without the grant. I met a few people at the classes which was good. I would recommend service to others’’.

‘’People who are carers get very isolated as you don't feel comfortable going out’’.

Evidence shows that taking regular breaks is imperative for carers to sustain their caring role. As well as issuing short break grants, VAS provide breaks to carers through their Respitality Scheme. This works by local businesses donating a gift, such as a dining experience or overnight hotel stay, which VAS to pass onto carers, registered with the scheme, to enjoy a short break. For more information about support for unpaid carers please visit their website at or facebook page Shetland Carers.

Catherine Hughson’s Executive Officer of VAS said ‘’ this small grant makes a huge difference to unpaid carers, to give them much needed break from their caring role. Care in the community could not continue without the support from the hundreds of unpaid carers giving valued support to individuals

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