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A charity providing respite for unpaid carers in North Argyll is providing nearly three times as many hours of respite as it did last year, it has been claimed.
Joan Best, manager of Crossroads North Argyll, also told community chiefs that there is a real need for more male workers to come forward to help the charity.
Others involved in the community meeting have also called for the area to use the next six months to prepare for the next forecast energy price hike.
The discussion took place at a virtual meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s Oban, Lorn and the Isles community planning group on Wednesday April 27.
Ms Best said: ‘Crossroads North Argyll provides respite for unpaid carers. We know what they have gone through over the last couple of years.
‘At the moment we have 53 carers who we support every week, providing 165 hours of respite. To give an example, last year we were providing 65 hours of respite.
‘We also have 13 carers on a waiting list, so we have gone from five members of staff up to 15. There are referrals coming every day and we have developed the service on Mull.
‘We have two carers who we support there, but it is very difficult to get staff on the island. It is a big area to cover, and we need staff in Tobermory and Bunessan.
‘We are now covering from Ardfern out to Seil, up to Benderloch and out to Dalmally and Kilchrenan, so our mileage bill is huge.
‘Again, it is difficult to get staff out to rural areas. It is quite worrying what is happening to unpaid carers.
‘We are also looking for male workers. We had one who was coming in two days a week; he is now doing five days a week and is at capacity. We really do need male workers in the area.’
Kevin Champion, chairman of the community planning group, said: ‘I was talking to somebody this week who made a powerful point about fuel costs, but for me, also very concerning is the energy hike.
‘What we have seen in April is probably nothing compared to what is predicted in October. We have six months to prepare for it, but it will come round very quickly.
‘It is not my place, but I am sure those organisations you are connected with are fully aware of that.’
Councillor Elaine Robertson, who is chairperson of Crossroads North Argyll and is standing down as a councillor at Thursday’s election, added: ‘I cannot imagine how the second hike in fuel is going to affect people. This hike has affected so many and we have heard that from previous speakers.
‘Mental health issues are rising all the time, along with financial issues which add up to greater concerns. We have six months to prepare, so will need to take that on board.’