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Mon 14 Mar 16

It's great to have the opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope that 2016 brings you health and happiness. It's a good time to reflect on the past year and set some goals for the coming year too.
As well as Happy New Year, it's Happy Anniversary to Respitality. One year ago, I started as Respitality Developer at Shared Care Scotland. I think it's been the fastest year of my life and I thank you for your passion, imagination and commitment in developing and supporting Respitality. We now have around 70 Respitality partners and have provided (or will provide) short breaks for around 200 Carers and a companion.

For friends in the hospitality sector, I would ask you again to contribute towards Respitality. Many of you have already, many have pledged to do so. The difference you make is huge. Thank you very much. We hope the hospitality sector will donate gifts on an annual basis – the frequency and amount is up to you. I believe that Respitality is different from other similar initiatives as we do see evidence of Carers going out again under their own steam to try new places and activities. We also support Carers going on breaks to ensure that the break is taken. It's a team effort and everyone's contribution is appreciated.
And as give back time, I am more than happy to come to industry and trade meetings, seminars, AGMs to talk about Respitality and to get your views on the project. I hope it provides a very interesting and thought provoking session.

End of Year Report. We are busy preparing the end of year 1 report for our funders in Scottish Government. This has to be submitted in March 2016. Thanks to all who are completing questionnaires, collecting statistics and providing feedback and stories. All contributions are essential to allow us to assess the success of the project and to help shape it for the future. I am always happy to receive feedback so please feel free to share your thoughts with me. We have learned loads and it will be quite a challenge to collect all the learning and stories and distil it into a coherent report!
Respitality Year 2. A proposal for Respitality Year 2 has been prepared and submitted to Scottish Government. This would fund the project for a further year, taking us to the end of March 2017. We plan to continue to support the Carers Centres who are currently offering Respitality and to help more introduce this new service. Again, we will be appealing to the hospitality sector for their support.

Respitality On-line System. Over the last couple of months, we have put in a lot of effort to specify and start the design work for an on-line system for Respitality. Associated alongside Shared Care Scotland's website, the Respitality website will provide a central point for all matters to do with Respitality. For example, information about the project; how Respitality works, all the latest news as well as a system for managing Respitality gifts and booking the Pitlochry bungalow. We are hoping for a go-live date of February this year.
Holidays Matters Conference.

The Holidays Matters conference in November provided an opportunity to catch up on initiatives in social tourism and hear some inspirational speakers. It was also a chance to tell more people about Respitality and listen to their views. Just hearing people say what a difference a short break makes cannot ever become repetitive. It re-energises people, changes their dynamics with family and friends, increases their self-esteem, adds some zing back into lives, encourages friendships, gives people a change to try new activities.............. Thanks to the Family Holiday Association for hosting this event.

Thanks to BH&HPA. We had a great day at BH&HPA (British Holiday & Home Parks Association) Seminar and Conference at Dynamic Earth. It's always interesting to understand the hospitality industry's hopes, fears and challenges and receive a generous and hospitable welcome too. Several Parks have come forward to offer Respitality breaks which will be very well received. Thanks to Jeanette Wilson and her team for a great day!

News from the Regions. Throughout 2015, it has been very interesting to work with the 5 Carers Centres and their colleagues as each Carers Centre adds Respitality to their menu of services. This is a project each decided to join and to be honest, I don't think many of us had a clear picture of all that was involved. We just believed that this concept would benefit carers, believed the hospitality sector wanted to help and developed the project from there.

Staff at Carers Centres and their colleagues (as well as families and friends) had to grapple with learning new skills, juggle the additional work, keep all team members up to date with developments and help Carers to accept these gifts and to go out and enjoy them. Each Carers Centre has done this in a different way – which is absolutely fine. We can all learn from this and pass on our knowledge to a new tranche of Carers Centres who have volunteered to take the Respitality challenge in 2016. Their names will become familiar throughout 2016.


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