Give Us a Break

Project summary

Our first project, Give Us a Break, tackles the feelings of social isolation that are often experienced by people caring for an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner. Give Us a Break aims to ease the burden of caring by providing a few days away from day-to-day responsibilities, as well as ongoing support over the phone and online.

“One thing when you’re caring, you’re on your own, in your own four walls and it’s amazing how quickly you lose your friends. This is a way of overcoming that deprivation, for want of a better word.”

– Derek, carer

Project leader Jude Habib explains where the idea for Give Us a Break came from: “While working at the BBC I took part in a campaign called Ring Around Carers, where we helped carers get support from other local carers through telephone friendship groups. The campaign made me realise the enormous pressures involved in caring for someone and that social isolation is a real problem for many carers.”

Helen has cared for her daughter for 50 years, she told us what a break would mean to her:

In the pilot stage of the project, 20 carers will receive a free two-night stay in a private home through the London Bed & Breakfast Agency. Once the pilot has been completed and evaluated, the soundinnovation team hopes to develop a long-term programme of national respite breaks for carers.

Why this project?

There are six million carers in the UK and research has shown that one in three people will become carers. The value of the unpaid care they provide is equivalent to a second NHS. We know that caring for someone impacts on the carer’s life in many ways, especially regarding their own physical and mental health. We also know that many carers become socially isolated as their former support networks break down and that the work of many carers goes unacknowledged.

Digby is Helen’s husband and co-carer of Lucy. He’s very positive about the prospect of a 2 night break:

The Carers’ Week 2010 survey of 2000 carers found that:

  • More than three-quarters (76%) of people looking after an ill, frail or disabled loved one do not have a life outside of their caring role.
  • 80% have been forced to give up leisure activities or going out socially since becoming a carer, leaving them isolated and missing out on opportunities the rest of the population take for granted.
  • 75% say they have lost touch with family and friends, and can no longer rely on relatives for support.
  • Carers contribute £119 billion per year to the economy. This is considerably more than the entire cost of the entire NHS (£98.8 billion).   [Source: Carers UK – Valuing Carers 2011]


The Give Us a Break pilot is funded by grants from The Body Shop Foundation, UnLtd and Awards for All, as well as money raised through a marathon completed by project leader Jude Habib.


Give Us a Break is also supported by the London Bed & Breakfast Agency.


The Give Us a Break pilot project is currently in progress.


For further information about Give Us a Break, please contact Jude Habib on or 020 7993 6340.