Respite holidays for struggling families soar by 67%

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Deanne AndersonImage source, Deanne Anderson
Image caption,
Deanne Anderson and two of her children went on a bus tour during their trip to Glasgow

A scheme to give respite to struggling families has seen a 67% increase in the numbers getting time away.

ScotSpirit breaks match tourism providers with people who need a rest but cannot afford to get away.

The number of industry partners providing support has more than doubled this year.

More than 1,600 people received a mini holiday in Scotland, and for two thirds of families it was their first break together.

The ScotSpirit project provides help for families struggling to cope with issues including disability, illness, bereavement or domestic violence.

The Family Holiday Association, which runs the scheme with Visit Scotland, said for many the trip proved life changing - helping families get on better, build confidence and support each other more.

VisitScotland said it was pleased to see a big increase in the number of companies donating accommodation, access to attractions, transport and meals.

'We never go on holiday'

Deanne Anderson, 37, from Pilton in Edinburgh, who has six children was referred by her social worker to the scheme.

She told BBC Scotland: "We went to Glasgow and stayed in the Ibis Hotel in November.

"It was brilliant and the kids loved it.

"We did the bus tour, the museum, lunch and went along the Clyde when it was all lit up. It was beautiful.

"We never get to go on holiday because we can't afford it."

Image source, Deanne Anderson

She was allowed to take two of her children and her mother on the trip.

Seven-year-old Caley said: "I remember when the beds were really comfy and I didn't want to get up.

"It was really good because I got to know something that I never got to know before."

Another daughter, 15-year-old Courtney, who stayed behind in Edinburgh, said: "I could tell straight away my mum was completely stress free and she was so much more relaxed.

"They seemed much happier when they came home and had big smiles on their faces."

John McDonald, director of the Family Holiday Association, said: "Everyone at the Family Holiday Association is absolutely thrilled to be celebrating a very successful second year for the ScotSpirit breaks.

"To see so many more families experience a life-changing break is a fantastic achievement and one we are very proud of.

"I'd like to say a massive thank you to the Scottish tourism industry for making this possible."

Culture and Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "ScotSpirit breaks is a fantastic initiative that allows disadvantaged families to enjoy time away together for a much needed break and I'm pleased a record number have benefitted this year.

"The feedback from families show the impact on them has been overwhelmingly positive."

Image source, Deanne Anderson
Image caption,
Deanne Anderson with her family

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