Care staff have been given a 12 per cent pay rise at a 175-year-old Scots charity that already offers free gym memberships, parking and food on shift.

Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Kibble,which provides residential care for “at risk” children, said he hoped other organisations would follow its lead to help retain and attract staff in the traditionally low-paid sector.

The Paisley-based charity took on 60 extra staff, at a cost of around £1 million, to allow it to reduce the hours that staff work for the same pay – the equivalent of a 12% rise.

Mr Gillespie says increased “downtime” means carers are more focused and this benefits the relationships they forge with vulnerable young people.

It comes amid increased scrutiny on the working conditions of social care staff as the Scottish Government considers how the new National Care Service will look.

Staff at Kibble are given more time off between shifts and work fewer consecutive days on any given week.

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The charity.which was recently named Scottish employer of the year, also provides free meals on shift and has an in-house physiotherapist.

“We are a great believer that staff are your biggest assets,” said Mr Gillespie, “and that relationships with young people are fundamental to making an impact on them. The directors have been looking seriously at this for the past 12 to 18 months.

The Herald:

“It was a case of how do we look after our staff to look after our young people as well as we can.

“If you are care worker or a teacher at Kibble you don’t have the ability to work at home, it’s not a 9-5 job. 

“We did a bit of research and giving people more money is a key aspect but time away from work was another aspect that came up.”

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Derek Feeley’s Independent Review of Social Care in Scotland found the social care workforce is undervalued, badly paid for vital, skilled work, and held in low esteem in comparison particularly to the health workforce.

“Kibble is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day and has been for 175 years – we’ve never closed for a day,” said Mr Gillespie.

“We try not to have [staff working] three or four shifts consecutively. To do that we had to increase our staff.”

"We try not to have {staff working] three or four shifts consecutively. To do that we had to increase our staff."

Twice a year Kibble runs a training programme which aims to bring people  into the care sector from otherjobs who may have the right attributes but don't have the necessary qualifications.

He said: "Over the ten months that they are employed, they get a minimum standard of an SVQ 3 which gives them the minimum registration [to work in social care].

"At the end of that they are guaranteed an interview. and if they successful, they get a job."

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Mr Gillespie said he was “keeping a watchful eye” on Scotland’s plan for a new National Care Service. The Scottish Government has appointed an independent expert to assess if children’s services should be included.

“It’s a huge proposition,” he said: “Ultimately we need to ensure we are recruiting the best people for the service now.

“We exist not to exist. I don’t think our mission of not existing is going to take place.

"Demand for services like ours is on the increase.

"“That circles back to the importance of rewarding and acknowledging the work that our staff do.”

Kibble’s origins date from 1840 and the death of Miss Elizabeth Kibble, heiress to a large textile fortune.

She left a portion of her wealth to “found and endow in Paisley, an institution for the purpose of reclaiming youthful offenders against the laws”.

The charity's earliest records show that young boys were trained and found positions in trades such as tailoring, shoe making, agricultural and dairy work.

Changes in the education system have seen Kibble function as a Reformatory School, an Approved School and a List D school until its current model of an Education and Care Centre was created in 1996 after a re-organisation of local authority boundaries and funding.

While the focus on skills and training remains strong, there is a strong emphasis on care and the protection of vulnerable young people.