Caring For The Carers

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Caring for a family member or friend can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do; but it can also be a real challenge, especially when your loved one is suffering from a long-term illness.  There are currently around seven million carers in the UK saving the government's coffers a staggering £132 billion each year.  In fact, three out of five of us will be carers at some point in our lives.

Physically and mentally, all carers need a rest; this could be as simple as a few hours away to have a cuppa with a friend or, after a lot of organising and arranging, a couple of nights away for a well-deserved mini-break. These things aren't always easy though, and all too often financial restraints can dictate any free time people may have.

Here in Perthshire, two of our favourite organisations have joined forces to bring a little relief to all of our wonderful unsung caring heroes living locally. Live Active Leisure has partnered with PKAVS Carers’ Hub to provide free access to their venues as part of a fantatsic new 'Respitality' initiative.

Respitality originated in the USA and has been rolled out in Scotland to great success. It's now supported by the hospitality industry and Scottish Government and is coordinated through Shared Care Scotland. It connects local carer centres with hospitality providers who gift a short break or experience which is then matched up to give unpaid carers a well-deserved break.

So far so fantastic! But what if you then take that original idea and acknowledged that respite will mean different things to different people. Wouldn't a visit to a local gym or fitness class with a friend on say, a monthly basis, be just as welcome a break from the routine?  YES! would be your resounding answer which is why LAL have offered to do just that!

Gill McShea, Partnership and Funding Manager of LAL commented, ‘Taking time out to be physically active and socialise is proven to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Taking time out to be physically active and socialise is proven to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. LAL are delighted to be a partner of the Respitality project and provide advice and support to help carers to benefit from this great opportunity.

She continued, “We’ve suggested each carer benefits from a maximum of 12 per year to allow them to enjoy a monthly visit. Not only will this give participants something to look forward to, it will also encourage positive longer-term changes to lifestyle and personal wellbeing.”

The initiative was launched during Carers’ Week and was kick-started with a donation of 200 activity vouchers plus ‘buy one get one free’ refreshment vouchers for use in LAL cafes.  The activity vouchers entitle a carer and a friend to a free swim, gym or class at any Live Active Venue.

LAL have also gifted 30 Wellbeing MOT’s appointments with the Wellbeing team where carers can learn more about their physical health and how being more active may help their overall wellbeing.

If you are an unpaid carer in Perth and Kinross and would like to be considered for a Respitality gift you can apply online at or contact Respite Development Officer Marthe Handling on 01738 567076 for more information.

Similarly if you are a local business interested in becoming a Respitality Partner please contact Marthe:-

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