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This UK-based charity startup is mobilising hotels to provide respite to 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. According to the recent State of Caring 2021 report released by Carers UK on 2 November, unpaid carers saved the UK economy £193 billion a year during the pandemic – outstripping the cost of the NHS. Yet the pandemic placed more pressure on unpaid carers who are finding it difficult to find time to recharge and are at risk of burnout.

The UK-based charity start-up, Carefree aims to change this situation by providing support for the carers who are at risk of burn out. The platform is transforming the vacant accommodation into breaks for full-time unpaid carers.

Doing good by donating holidays

This woman-led startup is now mobilising hotels to provide respite to unpaid carers. Five of the UK’s largest independent hotel chains have stepped forward to join the charity tech startup to offer every full-time unpaid carer with access to an annual break. Hotel partners, including Bespoke HotelsCycas HospitalitySleeperzThe 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’.

In a joint statement, the hotel partners said: “Through the pandemic, unpaid carers worked tirelessly to provide the invisible backbone of our health and social care system and they need time off. Together we can change how our society reinvests in the people that look after our most vulnerable.”

Sustainability solution for unpaid carers

Of carers using Carefree, 92% reported that they couldn’t have accessed a break without the charity’s support, which aims to deliver 4000 breaks by early 2022 and mobilise tens of thousands more as new hospitality partners join.

“The process is so easy to organise the break. You just need to say when you want to go and you go,” said Kirsty, who has cared for her two disabled children for 32 years and recently took a break with Carefree.

Collective commitment of people, partnerships and technology

Carefree CEO, Charlotte Newman, who believes that designing effective solutions for social care and carers should be a society-wide effort said: “Being able to rest is an essential part of what it means to be human.

“Only through the collective commitment of people, partnerships and technology working together can we build a truly sustainable, national way for carers in need of a break to access time off. Every Carefree Breakmaker, whether they are someone referring a carer, donating a break or providing a part of our tech infrastructure to distribute the stays, is a piece in the puzzle of how we’ll make that possible.”

Right to a proper break

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 60+ 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.

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