Leading Charity Calls For Urgent Action On Respite Funding
A leading UK charity that provides respite holidays for disabled people and their carers is calling for action as their guests reach breaking point due to a lack of funding. Revitalise has launched its ‘Give me a break’ appeal, a major fundraising campaign to ensure people do not face barriers to getting the breaks they urgently need.
Revitalise, which has centres in Southport and Essex, is a lifeline for disabled people and carers needing respite breaks, but its guests are facing an acute affordability crisis, which is leaving some at breaking point.
The charity’s vision is to ensure that every disabled person and carer can enjoy a holiday while getting the support they need, but this is becoming increasingly difficult for people to access.
While respite care is a statutory right, drastic cuts in local authority funding and spiralling cost-of-living increases mean that disabled people and their carers are not getting the breaks they need. Caring relationships are collapsing, and severe mental health issues are on the increase. Many carers and disabled people are in desperate need of support and their only chance of a break is with the help of centres such as Revitalise.
41% of carers have not had a day off in the last year* and they have spoken of their frustration at the situation and the absolute despair they are facing.
Lynda and her daughter, Susan, have been visiting Revitalise for more than 10 years, taking a break together whenever they can get funding to do so. Lynda, 69, lives in Liverpool and she was diagnosed with Dementia aged 54.
Susan has spoken of the difficulties of accessing funding and the impact that has.
She said: “Carers are being left at breaking point. Most people don’t even bother to apply for funding from social services because it’s so difficult and stressful to get stuff out of them. The system is there, and it’s meant to help you and make life easier but it just doesn’t.
“When you do eventually get some funding, they just pull the rug from under you anyway. This time round, it left me at breaking point. We’ve been put through the mill so much, through COVID and all the pressures of caring with minimal support from social services and we just needed a break.”
A recent guest survey carried out by Revitalise shows that 56% of people who need a break simply cannot afford to take one. The Joan Brander Fund, named after the founder of Revitalise, provides charitable funding to enable people to take a break but they are seeing more and more people trying to access this due to their funding from the local authority being stripped back.
Janine Tregelles CBE, Chief Executive of Revitalise, said: “We know that there are over 2 million disabled people out there who, along with their carers, directly need our support. Yet while the need to support them is getting bigger, the number we are able to help is decreasing due to funding provision.
“Years of austerity have cut social care budgets to the bone and local authorities are openly admitting they are having to act unlawfully, denying people access to care, as there is simply not enough funding to meet the level of need. We know that some our guests are at breaking point; research shows that almost two thirds of disabled people are chronically lonely and day centres are closing up and down the country, particularly since COVID. We are a lifeline for so many disabled people and their carers but there is just not the funding available to help people and disabled people and carers are being put in a very dire situation.
“This is of huge concern to us as we know how tough it is for so many people who enjoy coming to us, but it does not need to be this way. We have fully accessible respite centres available with the most wonderful staff and volunteers and we need to find ways to ensure that people can access them at a time of great need.”
The ONS’s UK wide research has shown that 36% of all disabled people have been prevented from going on holiday because of issues with accessibility.
Janine added: “For disabled people and carers, taking a break is fraught with difficulty. Mainstream holidays do not cater for those with more complex care needs, and with very little specialist options available, most disabled people end up in a respite bed in a care home. We help disabled people and their carers enjoy a proper holiday, but something needs to be urgently done so this can continue to be accessible for all.”
Revitalise is launching a special fundraising appeal to raise much needed funds for disabled people and carers to take the breaks they need. Further information about the charity’s ‘Give me a break’ campaign can be found at revitalise.org.uk.