Unpaid carers in North Ayrshire are set to receive a major boost with the launch of a new, expanded service, offering specialist information, advice and support.

The charity Unity, which currently supports unpaid carers in Irvine, is extending its service to cover the whole of North Ayrshire, including the islands of Arran and Cumbrae.

Unity's new Carers Gateway is being launched on Carers Rights Day, on November 23, and will see a three-fold increase in the resources available to the estimated 14,000 unpaid carers living across North Ayrshire.

Since 2000, Unity has operated the popular Carers Centre in Irvine, but is expanding under a new strategic partnership with North Ayrshire health and social care partnership (HSCP).

In addition, young carer support officers will work across all schools in the region.

The Carers Gateway will also offer specialist advice on carer wellbeing and breaks from caring.

The service will offer a new out-of-hours service to ensure in-work carers receive access to support. An innovative new digital portal will launch in early 2024 and will enable carers to access support 24 hours a day.

Unity’s chief executive, Fraser Bedwell, said: “Carers are the unsung heroes of our health and care services.

"They work tirelessly for their loved ones. They put the needs of their loved ones ahead of their own, but they need and deserve support too. That’s where the Carers Gateway comes in. Whether it is help with access to benefits, a break from caring or some peer support, the Gateway is here to help.”

As well as the launch of the Carers Gateway, Carers Rights Day will also see the first in a series of roadshow events across the area.

The inaugural event, in West Kilbride, is set to see unpaid carers from the local area come together with Gateway staff and other service providers to strengthen local relationships and connections.

Speaking ahead of the first carers roadshow, Councillor Nairn McDonald, North Ayrshire Council’s carers champion, said: “Caring can greatly impact physical and mental wellbeing.

"We urge unpaid carers to seek support this Carers Rights Day and year-round. Help is available – you do not have to do this alone.”

Carers Gateway North Ayrshire and be contacted at 01294 311333 or northayrshire.carers@unity-enterprise.com.