In need of a break: Unpaid carers and low-income families set to benefit from holiday voucher scheme

Carole Jackson, Marina DiDuca, Laura Bannerman, Kat Lee and Danielle Clegg

THOUSANDS of people who struggle to find the time or resources to take a holiday can now apply for a subsidised short break.

VisitScotland’s ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme, funded by The Scottish Government, has been officially launched yesterday, at one of the participating businesses.

Hampton By Hilton Edinburgh West is one of over 120 businesses so far signed up which includes leading hotel groups, B & Bs, hostels, and some of Scotland’s popular visitor attractions.

It’s hoped around 2,500 carers and 500 families can benefit from the short breaks scheme.

Representatives from VisitScotland, Shared Care Scotland, local carer’s charity Voice of Carers Across Lothian (VOCAL) and the Family Holiday Association met to discuss the impact of the pandemic on their health and well-being of families and carers and how important taking a break is.

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said: “It’s been a particularly difficult year for many and a break from the stresses of daily life can be so important for our well-being. This £1.4 million scheme will ensure that many low-income families and unpaid carers who might not have been able to take a short holiday, will be able to take some time out and enjoy the best of Scotland. I hope everyone who benefits from the scheme enjoys their well-deserved break.”

Marina DiDuca, Inclusive Tourism Manager, VisitScotland said: “We’re grateful to tourism businesses for joining the ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme. You are helping to make a real difference in the lives of people who don’t often get take a short break. The scheme will help tourism operators benefit from domestic breaks and day visits through the winter, to support the tourism and hospitality sector to recover from the pandemic. Tourism is a force for good – creating economic and social value in every corner of Scotland and enhancing the well-being of everyone who experiences it.”

Don Williamson, CEO, Shared Care Scotland said: “Access to breaks from caring are vital for the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s unpaid carers. We are pleased to help deliver this through the Scotspirit Holiday Voucher Scheme.”

Sebastian Fischer, Chief Executive, VOCAL said: “The last 18 months have been unbelievably challenging for unpaid carers, with many unable to access a break due to Covid-19. The new ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme is creative and enterprising – it breaks new ground and demonstrates how the third sector government and the hospitality and tourism industry can work together to create innovative solutions. ScotSpirit not only supports our economy, but above all recognises carers as equal partners, values their vital contribution to our country and supports their wellbeing.”

The scheme is one of 10 proposals that are funded by the £25 million tourism recovery programme. The ScotSpirit Holiday Voucher Scheme aims for our tourism and events industry to recover in a way which is more responsible, socially sustainable and inclusive. The project aims to stimulate off-season domestic breaks and day visits, to support the tourism and hospitality sector to recover.

If you are a family and would like to apply for a ScotSpirit break your application must be supported by someone working with your family such as a teacher, family support worker or social worker.

The person referring you must be registered with Family Holiday Association as a referrer.  If they are not already a referrer the can sign up via the following link https://www.familyholidayassociation.org.uk/scotspirit/

Carers can apply for a break through their local Carers Organisation. You can find out who is operating the Scheme in your area by following the weblink https://www.sharedcarescotland.org.uk/scotspirit-holiday-voucher-scheme/

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