London & Scotland
28 FEBRUARY 2022
Unpaid carers are being urged to benefit from donated hotel stays around the UK to offer them respite from their caring duties.
There are an estimated 8.8 million unpaid carers in the UK who provide 80% of home care, yet are rarely recognised for their frontline role and lack access to the same support as NHS staff or paid care home workers.
Until now, access to carer breaks has been an issue landlocked by lack of funds, shortages in interim care and unequal opportunities across different local authorities and regions.
By providing hotels with the capability to donate their unsold rooms to carers (est. at 1 million per week in the UK), charity tech start-up Carefree has been able to open up a transformative supply of break options at no extra cost to the public purse so that carers don’t have to wait any longer to get the respite support they need.
32-year-old Adele Fox from Brighton is a full-time carer for her mum, Grace, who lives with multiple sclerosis. She has taken two Carefree breaks with her sister in London and Manchester and said: “When you're in the middle of it the person you're caring for comes first and that's the priority and it can become all-consuming. By finding Carefree and taking a break it helps you to renew yourself to then support your loved one or the person you care for much more.”
90% of users say they wouldn’t have been able to take a break without Carefree and according to Carers UK, 64% of unpaid carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic - despite providing £193bn of care value to the UK economy last year.
Over 1,000 carers have benefitted so far but thanks to the charity’s new self-referral programme, it’s hoped more than 8,000 unpaid carers can benefit from a free break in 2022.
Carefree CEO, Charlotte Newman says: “It’s so important that carers get the chance to take advantage of this opportunity. We have around 3000 nights available for booking each month at hotels across the country. Time-away to look after themselves is within their reach, we just need them to know about it!”
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have supported Carefree with a mix of grant and loan funding totalling £250,000.
TV’s Jeff Brazier, who is also an ambassador for People’s Postcode Lottery, joined Carefree to speak to carers who have already been able to benefit from the breaks. He said:
“What Carefree is offering is much more than a break. It’s a lifeline for these selfless people who have been caring behind closed doors, watching their own mental and physical health spiral. Signing up is easy, the quality of breaks are outstanding and the support from the hospitality industry to make this happen is truly commendable.”
81 hotels are currently donating a portion of their unsold rooms to the charity on a rolling basis every month, with a number of new partners coming aboard to increase the geographic spread. Carers aged over 18 and providing full-time, unpaid care (over 30 hours per week), can sign-up via Carefree’s website at: https://carefreespace.org/take-a-break/
See the full film of the charity in action here:
Contact: Charlotte Newman (CEO), firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0) 20 3137 2578
Brand Assets: https://newsroom.carefreespace.org/press-kit
Carer Case Studies: See below. More information available on request.
- List of participating hotels: https://carefree.knack.com/hp-locator#carefree-hp-locator/
- List of community referral partners: https://carefree.knack.com/cp-locator#
- URL for carer break sign-up: https://carefreespace.org/take-a-break/
NOTES TO EDITOR
About the organisation
Carefree is a charity start-up that transforms vacant accommodation into breaks for full-time unpaid carers. There are an estimated 8.8 million unpaid carers in the UK who provide 80% of home care, yet are rarely recognised for their frontline role and lack access to the same support as NHS staff or paid care home workers.
Hotel partners, including Bespoke Hotels, Cycas Hospitality, Sleeperz, The QHotels Collection and Village Hotels, have pledged to donate a portion of their unsold rooms to the charity on a rolling basis, becoming a ‘Carefree Breakmaker’.
Carefree's platform provides an easy means for full-time unpaid carers to overcome the barrier for their right to a proper break. Its referral partnerships with 80+ Community Partners made up of Local Authorities and Carer Support Organisations, provide a powerful network for joined-up service delivery to help support the UK’s unrecognised carers. Powered by Impala's global distribution API, it's possible for any hotel to join as a hospitality partner by donating stays with just a few clicks.
Individual carer quotes
- Hannah and Adele Fox are two Brighton based sisters who look after their mum, Grace, who has multiple sclerosis. Together they’ve taken two breaks with Carefree. Hannah is also a vocal advocate for young carers as a member of the NHS Youth Forum.
'We needed time as just sisters. We needed to find our identity again. Especially in lockdown when we didn't have that sister time we desperately needed, just to find our smile.”
“When you're in the middle of it the person you're caring for comes first and that's the priority and it can become all-consuming. By finding Carefree and taking a break it helps you to renew yourself to then support your loved one or the person you care for much more.”
- Rowan Walker, 30, is a Bristol-based carer and has a 10-year-old daughter. He has been caring for his mum, who has Parkinsons, for 11 years and has taken two breaks with Carefree.
- Dorothy Amura, based in London, looks after her son Adam who was diagnosed with schizophrenia 13 years ago. She never imagined that she would still be looking after her son at the age of 67. Dorothy has taken two breaks with Carefree.
- Claire Bowen, 54, is a single parent of two sons, Ben and Jamie, who both have significant additional needs. Ben is doing spectacularly well doing a BA in Inclusive Performing Arts at Chickenshed. He is also on the board at Watford Palace Theatre and is in the Youth Company, and in the spare 3 hours he has in the week he volunteers with the Army Cadets! Jamie is a trainee at a rural trust to address his animal addiction.
Rowan on what he enjoyed most about his break away:
“I’m like Rowan, the real Rowan. Just care free really, just living life.”
“A Carefree break is fabulous because I can breathe.”
“If you can allow yourself a break, then it just helps you to go back and care again and care well.”
Hospitality Partner Quote Nicola Mason, Director of Marketing at Village Hotels (a Carefree partner):
"Hearing the carers say it was so easy to access and such an easy booking process was enlightening, I would encourage all unpaid carers to investigate taking a break with Carefree.”
- 8.8 million unpaid carers, providing 80% of home care.
- Unpaid carers saved the UK economy £193 billion a year during the pandemic
- £132 billion annual saving (pre-pandemic) to the public purse
- 78% say that their ability to take a break has gotten worse since the pandemic
- 55% of carers name having access to a break as a priority for social care reform
- 64% of carers have not been able to take any breaks from their caring role during this time
- 46% of carers have not had a break in the past 5 years
- 3 in 5 people will care for someone during their lifetime
- 100 million unpaid carers in Europe.
- 45 million carers in the USA.
With 1 million unsold hotel rooms in the UK every week and thousands of holiday cottages unoccupied for up to half of the year, the potential number of 2-night breaks per annum exceeds 20 million.
- CEO, Charlotte Newman, listed as one of the Top 100 women in Social Enterprise (NatWest WISE100 2022)
- Winner: Sustainability (Skift Innovation Design & Experience Awards 2020)
- Winner: Breakthrough Charity of the Year (Third Sector Awards 2019)
- Best Practice Example (Social Care Institute for Excellence 2019)
- Selected for ‘Tech To Unite Us’ (Social Tech Trust 2019/20)
Founding Partners & Supporters
Baillie Gifford, Bespoke Hotels, Boltini Trust, Classic Cottages, Crix Capital, Crystal Amber Fund, Dulverton Trust, Franklin Templeton, Garfield Weston Foundation, Impala, Kernow Carers Service, Khalastchi Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Pears Foundation, Postcode Innovation Trust, Strandpark Properties, Social Tech Trust, Swire Charitable Trusts and The Stobart Group