The City of Edinburgh Council and VOCAL, Voice of Carers Across Lothian, have announced a new Carers Recovery Fund. Recognising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on unpaid carers, the City of Edinburgh Council has committed to an investment of £250,000 to support unpaid carers. VOCAL will serve as the lead partner, managing the delivery of the fund.

Prior to the pandemic, 65,084 people in Edinburgh had caring responsibilities (13.7% of the population)[i]. For many, their caring role increased massively and it is estimated that across Scotland nearly 400,000 additional citizens took on caring responsibilities.[ii]

Research released for Carers Week by the Carers Week charities[iii] found that 71% of unpaid carers in Scotland have not had any breaks from their caring role during the pandemic. Of those who got a break, over a third (36%) used the time to complete practical tasks or housework, and almost a quarter (24%) to attend their own medical appointments.

Three quarters (77%) reported being exhausted as a result of caring during the pandemic.

More than a third (36%) said they feel unable to manage their unpaid caring role.

The Carers Recovery Fund is an important step towards further investment in carers as the largest providers of care in our communities. The Fund will be allocated as a one-off payment to individual carers, and can be used to support carer health and wellbeing, enable carers to take a short break and to improve the financial wellbeing of carers.

Cllr Joan Griffiths, Carers Champion for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

I’m so pleased we’re investing £250k in this Carers Recovery Fund in recognition of the extra challenges and additional pressures they have faced during the pandemic. Many carers have been unable to get a break from their role and have suffered a loss of support networks so this one off investment recognises the dedicated, unheralded and unpaid work they do.

This funding is really important in the current climate especially for young carers who have been badly affected by not being able to meet their friends through lost school time. Anything we can do to support them is welcome news and we look forward to working with VOCAL on this project. The Carers Recovery Fund is part of a wider £21m package boosting our work for core ambitions of the Council – tackling poverty and inequality, boosting sustainability and enhancing wellbeing for everyone here in Edinburgh.

Sebastian Fischer, Chief Executive of VOCAL said:                                                                               

We look forward to working with the City of Edinburgh Council to administer the new Carers Recovery Fund for unpaid carers across the city. As the Carers Week report has shown, many carers have not been able to access a break due to the pandemic. Now, more than ever, the health and social care system relies on unpaid carers. It is vital that their right to regular breaks is recognised. This investment is a statement of intent and will have a positive impact on the lives of individual carers across different caring roles.

[i] Scottish Household Survey 2011 and Edinburgh Carers Strategy 2019-2022
[ii] Carers Scotland, 2020
[iii] Carers Week Report – Breaks or breakdown