The Welsh Government has launched a new £3m fund to provide respite and short breaks for the country’s small army of unpaid carers, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan announced today.
Speaking during Carers Week, Julie Morgan said the new fund will extend and improve the availability and quality of respite services, helping to support the valuable work unpaid carers do every day.
Around 12% of people in Cymru have caring responsibilities— many do not receive any support.
Respondents to the Welsh Government’s Strategy for Unpaid Carers consultation, said their levels of stress and anxiety had increased because they could not access respite services; go on a day trip or even leave their home for a couple of hours, during the height of the pandemic.
With no one-size-fits-all form of respite, the fund will be available for flexible support to meet the needs of individual carers through a range of person-centred and innovative options, including face-to-face support and short breaks, helping unpaid carers have regular periods away from their caring routines or responsibilities.
The £3m fund will be split into two phases— local authorities will be allocated £1.75m in the first phase to meet an anticipated surge in demand for respite services. In the second phase, £1.25m will fund a new national short breaks fund.
Launching the fund on Monday, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said:
"The physical and emotional impact of caring can be overwhelming. Unpaid carers across Wales play a vital role in our society – and their contribution to the pandemic has been immense, often taking on greater responsibilities with fewer breaks.
"Respite services can be a lifeline and this new fund will make sure unpaid carers have a short break from their caring responsibilities.
"Unpaid carers are some of society’s unsung heroes and it is essential we help them look after their own health and wellbeing."
Responding to the announcement, Simon Hatch, director of Carers Trust Wales said:
"This funding is very welcome, particularly given the significant impact the pandemic has had on thousands of unpaid carers. Carers have been highlighting for many years that the amount and flexibility of respite care support needs greatly improving. This is an important start in developing the respite support which carers in Wales deserve."