Charity ‘Cornwall Hugs’ has launched an appeal to holiday let owners, hotels and resorts, inviting them to support care workers during the Covid-19 crisis with emergency temporary accommodation.

Many working in adult social care are needing to isolate from their own families in order to prevent the virus spreading while they continue to provide vital care for the most vulnerable members of society.

However, there is currently no statutory provision for them to do this.

Cornwall Hugs is now building upon the experience of arranging nearly 500 respite stays for those affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire to address this latest need by connecting Care Workers with those offering help.

Accommodation providers can register on a dedicated Cornwall Hugs website, making it clear whether the offer is freely given, in return for basic costs or at a reduced rent. Care Workers will also then be able to register their need on the new portal –

Esme Page, founder of Cornwall Hugs said: "Cornwall hugged Grenfell with wide open arms. Now we need to ‘hug’ our own front-line care workers, with practical help: a safe haven when they need it most.

"Cornwall’s social care professionals can easily be the unseen heroes in this crisis and that’s why our appeal is specifically for them.

"With this practical help, accommodation providers can make a concrete difference in the fight against the virus. The first phase is to gather as many accommodation offers as possible and it’s going to take another big Team Cornwall effort to make it happen."

Cornwall Hugs said it had been approached by several care workers described as being ‘in dire straits’.

One young woman, Nicole, was sleeping in her car to protect her vulnerable mother at home. Within hours, Cornwall Hugs found her suitable accommodation.

Esme said: “Nicole didn’t know where to turn and found it difficult to ask for help herself, but when we put the call out on Facebook that immense Cornish compassion came to the fore again and we received 20 offers in a single afternoon.

"This is a real Dunkirk moment! We’re going to need a lot more of that spirit if we want other care workers to remain in post over the coming weeks.

"We’re looking for a ‘fleet’ of offers; we’re calling upon the ‘little boats’ and the ‘big boats’, individual holiday let owners, resorts, caravan parks and letting agencies to throw their weight behind this.”

The charity is backed by individuals, businesses, care managers and faith groups.

The Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, said: “I’m delighted to support this fresh Cornwall Hugs initiative. It pinpoints a real and quite shocking need arising out of the coronavirus crisis.

"With all its acknowledged expertise, profile and rock-solid reputation Cornwall Hugs is in a wonderful position to rise to the challenge – providing it has the resources it needs to do so.”

Cornwall Hugs is urgently seeking funding to coordinate activities both from grant bodies and from individual donors via Just Giving at

Cornwall Hugs said there were 15,500 people employed in the care sector working across 323 establishments – more than the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Kernow Community Interest Company and GPs combined.

But, with staffing levels already down by 15 per cent across the sector, social care professionals are concerned both about the scale of the problem now, and the effects upon staff retention in the weeks and months to come, it said.

Mary Anson, who is director of five care homes, said: “We’ve had staff sleep in chairs at the home to avoid putting family members at risk. When staffing levels fall too low, we simply cannot care for some residents; they have to be admitted to hospital, which causes further strain on the NHS.”

Tish Berriman, director of domiciliary care provider Trelawney Care Ltd, added: “To know that carers could leave the family home and live somewhere safe would help to take away a lot of the stress and fear they are working with on a day-to-day basis.”

Emma Rowse, chair of trustees for Volunteer Cornwall, worked with Cornwall Hugs in the aftermath of the Grenfell Towers disaster.

She said: “We are gearing up to provide Cornwall Hugs with any volunteers they may need to operate the Cornwall Hugs Care Workers project; they are filling a gap identified both by the independent Care Sector and Cornwall Council and we hope they are able to get up and running quickly.”

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for adults, Rob Rotchell, said: “We’ve already seen some great partnership working between the Care and the Tourism sectors; a number of hotel owners have come forward to offer their currently empty hotels as places for older people to stay once discharged from hospital, so I am sure that many of the holiday let owners will be very keen to help. Please do whatever you can to support Cornwall’s care workers at this most difficult time.”

Derek Thomas, St Ives MP, added: "I’ve been astonished at the sacrifice of people who have chosen to live separately from their families whilst caring for others. This sacrifice requires some alternative accommodation and empty holiday lets offer the temporary base care staff need! What a great initiative and I wish it every success."

Cornwall Hugs is collaborating with Visit Cornwall, which is already working closely with the NHS to support the health sector with its isolation needs.

Supporters are invited to register on Cornwall Hugs’ new web portal,, where they will find three clear buttons – a blue one for registering offers of temporary emergency accommodation, a yellow one for Care Workers or their employers to register requests and a purple Just Giving button for donations.