THOUSANDS of carers have access to a new discount card scheme backed by dozens of shops and businesses.

Inverclyde Carers' Centre and the local health and social care partnership (HSCP) have teamed up with more than 30 retailers to launch the 'Carers Passport', providing cut-price offers to those who look after a loved one.

A range of businesses right across the district have signed up.

Among the 32 participating retailers is Fresh cafe in Greenock's Oak Mall, where the launch took place, and Morton, with first team players Kyle Thomson and Jack Iredale attending the event to show their support.

Local carers champion, Councillor John Crowther, said: "It's an absolutely brilliant initiative and I'm very pleased with the work the carers have done. "They have achieved a lot in such a short period of time and I commend them for that."

The passport was developed to provide financial support to thousands of unpaid carers across the district, who look after family and friends affected by illness, disability, addiction or frailty, and to recognise their valuable contribution to the community.

According to latest figures, carers save the UK economy £132 billion a year, an average of £19,336 per carer.

However, half of unpaid carers expect their quality of life to get worse in the next 12 months.

Lorna MacDonald, manager of Inverclyde Carers' Centre, said: "We would like to thank the participating organisations for their support of the centre and this initiative and we hope to get more carers on board and more businesses involved.

"Looking after a loved one can bring a sense of purpose and pride, however, it often takes its toll on carers' own health, whether physically or emotionally. "We hope this project will make it easier for carers to combine caring responsibilities whilst retaining a life outside caring."

The businesses participating in the passport scheme range from the Willow Café in Kilmacolm to Treasured Gift Shop in Gourock and many others in between.

Supporting organisations will display the Inverclyde Carers' Centre logo to make them easy to identify and they are also listed online at