A VOLUNTEER 'sitter' with South Lakeland Carers has given her support to The Westmorland Gazette's Give Them a Break campaign.

Liz Mitchell Parr, who has performed the role for nearly three years, believes the campaign will help raise awareness of the vital work carers do.

The Gazette's Give Them A Break campaign is looking to raise £20,000 to give people who voluntarily care for a loved-one, relative or friend, who cannot care for themselves through illness or disability, a much-needed respite break.

This could involve a one-night dinner, bed and breakfast stay at a Lake District hotel, a night away at a local guest house or Airbnb, a day activity such as a spa break, an outdoor adventure trip for a youngster, or a day’s walking up a fell with a guide. The campaign also encourages owners of guest house, bed and breakfasts or Airbnb properties to offer complimentary respite stays to people who voluntarily care for a sick person.

There are around 1,250 unpaid carers across Cumbria who look after a relative, neighbour or friend.

The campaign is also seeking to encourage people to volunteer as counsellors or 'sitters', so that some carers can have a three hour break each month.

"I think it's really important for the carer to get a bit of time off," said Ms Mitchell Parr. "You don't need to commit a lot of your own time and you know what you're doing is important for someone else."

Liz became a volunteer from a friend's recommendation who was also working at SLC. She is hoping the campaign will help encourage others to follow suit.

"The system is very flexible" she said. "SLC provide training and help along every step of the way.

"I would just say go for it, you get to meet new people and make friendships that you might not have otherwise made."

Care support worker Diane Barker, who helps to identify through an assessment those who may need a volunteer sitter to help them through their journey as a carer, said: "We look at what is available for carers both within SLC, be it counselling or a sitter, and in the community.

"We are here for carers and support them through every stage of their journey, even at the end.

"If we had more sitters we could offer more opportunities"

The charity wants to point out that you do not need experience to be a volunteer.

"Anyone can volunteer, as long as you're interested in the person you're looking after," said Ms Barker. "What you provide as a volunteer is piece of mind for the carer."

To donate print out the coupon (picture four above) and send it with your donaiton (full details onhte coupon).

Alternatively visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/GiveThemABreak to donate online.