Third Sector Awards 2019: Breakthrough of the Year - Carefree for Carefree, creating a sharing economy that gives carers a break

This award is an opportunity to showcase something new or different. Areas could include supporter and/or donor engagement, extending the reach of the charity or introducing a new way of working

Category sponsored by Ethical Property

What is the project?

The UK’s 8.8 million unpaid carers form the invisible backbone of our health and social care system, saving the state £132bn every year. However, 68 per cent of those looking after family and friends with physical and mental ill health are unable to get any time off. Carefree has developed a nationwide system that will enable every full-time, unpaid carer to take an annual break at no cost to the public purse.

How is the project delivered?

Every day, there are about 140,000 vacant rooms in the UK's hospitality sector. Carefree has created a digital infrastructure that allows hospitality industry partners to make their vacant rooms available to carers, who can book on or offline for themselves and a plus one. Two national pilots involved Bespoke, the UK's largest independent hotel group, Classic Cottages, one of the largest holiday cottage providers in south-west England, and Holiday Inn Southend. A network of 48 Care Support Organisations provide a national pipeline of carer referrals. 

How effective has it been?

Through the pilots, breaks have been offered to 1,200 full-time, unpaid carers, 412 of whom have already taken a break. In just 20 months, Carefree leveraged £235,000 of new private sector resource, at no cost to the public sector. The impact on participating carers has been incredible: 86 per cent would not have taken a break this year without this service, 79 per cent are better able to cope with their caring roles and the wellbeing of 98 per cent has improved.


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