Carers need a break – can you help?

A charity is asking upmarket hotels to offer a free night’s B&B to those in need of respite

Caring for a relative 24/7 can be stressful and exhausting.

In India, they call it “frugal innovation” – small changes, employing familiar ingredients, costing comparatively little, that can make a big difference in surprising ways. Local Solutions is a hugely impressive 40-year-old charity based in Merseyside that works in the north-west and north Wales. Frugal innovation runs through its veins.

It has, for instance, a supported lodgings scheme matching young people to families who have an empty room, need extra cash but also want to give back without becoming foster carers. Adele had never known her mother. She was raised by her alcoholic father and when she was 16, he accidentally burnt down their house. Adele was placed with Brenda and Steve who helped her to take a course in mechanics and trace her mother. She is now living happily with her mum in Leeds.

Local Solutions also runs schemes tackling bullying and domestic violence, including amongst teenagers. It offers debt advice, has a hostel for young homeless and runs a water sports centre on the Mersey. The centre generates income but also provides free water sports for the homeless and for the disabled. So, for example, Paula, 23, has cerebral palsy and has been canoeing since she was eight.

The charity’s latest example of frugal innovation is dead simple and one that it would like help to develop, brand and spread to other towns and cities. For 18 years, it has supported carers who frequently experience stress, social isolation and mental health problems as a result of looking after a relative often 24 hours a day, seven days a week with little respite.

The charity recently had the idea of asking hotels in Liverpool if they would give a carer a room for the night and breakfast (dinner would be an extra bonus). A pilot at the Malmaison Liverpool was a success. Hotels have empty rooms; carers need a break. Now, a number of Liverpool hotels have signed up to give a complimentary monthly bed and breakfast to a carer and friend. They include the Crowne Plaza Liverpool, Hotel Indigo, Hard Days Night Hotel, Nadler Hotel and Jurys Inn.

The carers are registered at Liverpool Carers Centre and are assessed for a respite break. Demand far outweighs supply. Steve Hawkins, chief executive of Local Solutions, would like to expand the idea to include restaurants, theatres and travel companies. Liverpool Hotel Respite for Carers Scheme is a clunky name for a great idea that deserves all the support it can get. So, have you got the skills that can help please?