Unpaid carers in Wales are set to benefit from a short breaks fund worth £9 million, the Welsh Government has announced.
The scheme, which will be funded for the next three years, is intended to increase opportunities for unpaid carers to take a break from their caring roles.
There are an estimated 400,000 unpaid carers in Wales, many of whom have struggled to take breaks with caring responsibilities over the last two years with heightened pressure on their caring responsibilities.
Restrictions imposed during lockdown have limited opportunities and also meant carers were unable to access support from family and friends, leading to further fatigue and, in some cases, pushing them near to breaking point.
A survey of more than 700 unpaid carers found seven in ten carers have been unable to take any breaks since March last year.
Another survey found more than half had to give up on hobbies or personal interests because of their caring role.
In March, the Welsh Government announced more than 57,000 unpaid carers in Wales will receive a one-off £500 payment in recognition of the pivotal role they played during the pandemic.
Now it is hoped the new short break scheme, welcomed by Carers Wales, will provide a further boost of support.
Deputy Minister for social services Julie Morgan said: “I know a lot of unpaid carers have struggled to access short breaks during the pandemic and how this has impacted on them.
“We’re investing in this respite and breaks scheme as we recognise how important these short breaks are from their caring responsibilities, supporting both their physical and mental wellbeing, and how they can have a positive impact on their lives.
“We want to make it easier for unpaid carers of all ages across Wales to access a break and by working together we believe this is the most effective way to do so.”
Responding to the announcement, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: "We are glad to see the Welsh Government roll put this scheme after following a long campaign from the Liberal Democrats that we started in early 2021."For more needs to be done to recognise the extraordinary hard work of carers and to make their lives easier. We all know someone who is a carer and we all see the vital work they do with their work estimated to save the Welsh Government around £12 billion a year."