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Highland politicians throw their support behind Carers Week charity walk event

By Philip Murray

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Local politicians give their support for Carers Week Walk500 – MSP Maree Todd, MP Drew Hendry and MSP Kate Forbes. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Local politicians give their support for Carers Week Walk500 – MSP Maree Todd, MP Drew Hendry and MSP Kate Forbes. Picture: Gary Anthony.

POLITICIANS are putting their best feet forward to support a charity's campaign celebrating Carers Week – and highlight the invaluable work unpaid carers carry out while helping to save the Scottish NHS more than £11 billion a year.

Connecting Carers, which is based in Dingwall, has already placed posters across more than 30 different sites throughout the Highlands to celebrate Carers Week, which this year runs from June 7 to 13.

These sites include empty shop windows in Inverness, Dingwall, Nairn, Fort William and Thurso, around the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness, in various Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op and Spar shops in the region, Nevis Sport in Fort William and around GP surgeries and in hospitals.

The charity is also running a Walk500 event, where staff, carers, their families, players from Caley Thistle, members of Highland Rugby Club, Inverness Craig Dunain rugby, Physio Inverness, SNP politicians and many others walk a distance they are comfortable with, log it with the charity and take pictures of where they walked in a bid to break the 500-mile barrier.

And the charity will also be launching a social media campaign in the coming days, with many of the above organisations contributing to that too.

The charity’s manager, Roisin Connolly, said: "Carers Week 2021 has a vitally import message 'making caring visible and valued' and what better way to do this than putting on your walking shoes, explore the fantastic environment that your community has to offer and support Walk500 2021.

“Walk500 was first launched by Connecting Carers during Carers Week 2017. Carers and their families walked a whopping 2591 miles, five times the original total, can we smash this total this year, Yes we can!"

Barbara Brown, from Connecting Young Carers, added: “For Carers Week this year we will be taking part in the Walk 500 in lots of places across Highland.

“Some of our Young Carers will be getting together for a walk as our first face-to-face event since Covid-19! We will also be celebrating the week together at a group online get together.”

Several Highland-based politicians have praised the charity's efforts and have also joined forces to take part in Walk500. Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes, said: “I am delighted to support this initiative from Connecting Carers. Our carers are often the most undervalued and yet most essential frontline workers, especially those who are unpaid carers.

“This is a small way of recognising the importance of this work and showing support.”

Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd, added: “Carers have been the unsung heroes of the pandemic and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

“It’s important that we do all we can to make their role more visible and we recognise their contribution to the health and wellbeing of families and communities across Scotland.

“I’m therefore delighted to be doing my bit to pay tribute to carers this week by taking part in Connecting Carers ‘Walk 500’ – a fantastic way of honouring our amazing carers and a great reason to get out and about and enjoy the outdoors.”

And Drew Hendry MP, added: “I want to thank all the carers in our communities for the vital work every day to look after others for whom life would be very different without them.

“This past year has been particularly tough on carers, many of whom felt isolated through the lockdown periods. I know that the Connecting Carers team and volunteers provided much-needed support during this challenging period for many carers.

“I look forward to continued work with Connecting Carers to do all we can to make caring visible and ensure unpaid carers, including young carers, feel valued across the Highlands."

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