UNPAID carers across Wiltshire are being given a break thanks to a fundraising appeal run by the charity Carer Support Wiltshire.

The Time for Carers appeal ran in 2017 and met its target of raising £25,000.

Now the money is being used to help give short respite breaks to some of the 47,500 people in the county who devote their lives to supporting their loved ones.

Paris Meakin, 39, of Calne, is a single parent who donated to the appeal. Paris cares for her son, Ashton, five, who has autism. Because of his difficulties in coping in a mainstream school, Ashton was excluded and, nine months on, still has no school place. This meant Paris had to give up the job she loved as a purchasing assistant for a book publisher to look after him.

Time for Carers money was used to fund support for Ashton for two hours a week for six weeks, giving Paris time to go to the gym and to spend time with her grandmother.

“Becoming a full-time carer was not what I expected from life,” said Paris, who grew up in South Africa, but came to the UK 17 years ago.

“I enjoyed work and I had to give it up. It’s been really hard and when Carer Support Wiltshire stepped in I was getting to the point where I didn’t know who I was any more.

“It meant I could have some time to myself and seeing my gran was really lovely. CSW also put me in contact with another carer from South Africa and it was really helpful to hear about her experiences. We are still friends and that’s been really good for me.”

Other carers who benefited from Time for Carers include a Melksham woman who looks after her bipolar son. She received support to enable her to attend a pilates class. A Marlborough man caring for his wife, who has complex health conditions, was experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress and his physical health was also deteriorating. The Time for Carers-funded break meant that he was able to sign up to regular swimming lessons. So far, 30 awards have been made, with each carer receiving an average of almost £200 worth of support.

Carer Support Wiltshire’s appeal for this year – Community Connections – aims to raise £25,000 to provide breaks for carers and put them back in touch with their communities, so helping to eradicate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Visit https://carersupportwiltshire.co.uk/ or call free on 0800 181 4118.