Carers Week: Scottish charity powers Short Breaks for unpaid carers using local gift cards

Marthe Hastie, Team Leader (Short Breaks Service) at Dundee Carers Centre

A CHARITY in Dundee is supporting unpaid carers using an innovative local gift card initiative.

Dundee Carers Centre aims to improve the lives of unpaid carers of all ages by giving support, advice and access to learning.  As part of their Short Breaks Service, they are providing unpaid carers with Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards allowing them to take time for themselves, recharge, or reconnect with a hobby.

A ‘unpaid carer’ is an individual who provides unpaid care for another individual. A carer could be caring for someone of any age, with a physical or learning disability, elderly, mental illness, drug or alcohol dependency or who is living with cancer or any other critical or chronic illness.

Carers can use the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card to access a variety of products and services, including food and drink, shopping, accommodation and leisure activities.

Dundee Carers Centre said their Short Breaks offering is personal to the carer, with the local gift cards used to offer flexibility and choice to people.

Marthe Hastie, Team Leader at Dundee Carers Centre Short Breaks Service, said:

“Our main objective when supporting a carer to access Short Breaks is that the break must be personal to that carer. Caring means something different for everyone and so it’s no surprise that ‘breaks’ mean something different for everyone too; it could perhaps be to discover a new hobby, spend quality time with family, time on their own, a night away, or even just lunch with a friend.

“The Short Breaks team supports unpaid carers to access funding and help make a break a reality. When the Centre received a small amount of funding which was ring fenced to provide Short Breaks with the criteria that it was to be spent locally, we started using the Dundee Gift Card, part of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative, as carers identified they wanted to do something that was available through the card such as going for coffee and cake at a local café.

“There are over 200 businesses where the Dundee Gift Card can be used which means we can offer carers choice and flexibility. Our goal is to make a short break as stress free as possible and having the gift card supports that, while supporting local businesses in Dundee.

“These businesses support carers, and it is important to us that we support the businesses in return. Many large brands are part of gift card programs, but we like the fact that the Dundee Gift Card includes smaller businesses who would not ordinarily benefit.”

Dundee Carers Centre is a Respitality Delivery Partner, a Scottish Government supported project coordinated nationally by Shared Care Scotland. They connect hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses who are willing to donate short breaks free of charge to unpaid carers.

The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card initiative was introduced in 2021 as a means to direct spend to local communities, and power economic recovery, delivered by Scotland’s Town Partnership (STP) and Perth based fintech Miconex.

Working like a regular debit card, the gift cards are available for regions across Scotland, including Dundee, Glasgow, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute and South Ayrshire, and can be spent locally with all types and sizes of local businesses in that area.

A number of Scottish charities and organisations use the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card to support service users and reward staff, including Scottish Care who used 17 of the Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards to show appreciation to its 44 strong team, including in Glasgow, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Fife, and Argyll and Bute.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership chief officer Kimberley Guthrie said: “Scotland’s Towns Partnership chief officer Kimberley Guthrie said: “It is fantastic that Dundee Carers Centre are using the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card as a means of saying thank you to hard-working carers this Carers Week.

“The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card offers a huge range of choice for recipients to spend their gift on a meal out, a trip to the shops, fantastic local experiences, or household items – and allows them to take pride in spending with local businesses. The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is a gift to the whole community.”

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said: “The Scotland Loves Local Gift Card offers a dual benefit for charities, the opportunity to give their staff or service users unbeatable local choice whilst providing a tangible cash injection to local communities. Supporting local aligns with the values of many organisations and with the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card, we’ve made that easy to do.”

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