A charity that provides support for carers has launched a new paid-for extension to its service.

Staff at CareFree say the new scheme will offer “extra choice” for Craven’s carers.

For 16 years, CareFree staff have provided carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities.

They do everything from escorting the cared-for people to social activities, reviving “lost” hobbies, providing companionship in their own home, or assisting the carer with the personal care of their loved one.

Project manager Elaine Owen said: “It has been estimated that unpaid carers – and by this I mean the families and friends who don’t see themselves as carers, they just get on with it – save the UK economy £119bn. a year.

“We have provided a relief care service to over 650 carers since we began in 1995, and know that we have contributed to what people who are disabled or frail want most – to stay in their own homes.”

The new CareFree Plus service costs £13 per weekday hour and £15 per hour for evenings and weekends.

Carers may be eligible for help with these costs in the form of direct payments or personal budgets allocated by North Yorkshire County Council.

Mrs Owen said: “All the Personal Assistants are CRB checked, professionally trained, and most importantly, genuine carers.”

She added: “Whilst recognising that the situation of every carer is unique, the common factor is the support they need in the everyday care of a partner, relative or friend who cannot manage without them.

“It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, caring for them 24 hours a day is emotionally and physically draining.”

One carer who uses CareFree said: “I can go out for lunch with friends, knowing that Dad is safe and happy in the company of someone he likes and trusts. Your service is a lifeline.”

For further information about CareFree and CareFree Plus contact Elaine Owen or Caroline Crabtree at Craven Community and Voluntary Services on 01535 634588.