THIS week is Carers Week, an annual event which raises awareness of the huge contribution made by over 650,000 carers across Scotland.
I am pleased to support this year's Carers Week campaign 'Prepared to Care', which is highlighting the impact that caring makes on a person's life, and the support that carers need to make sure they are not left isolated.
Scotland's army of unpaid carers undertake such valuable work, and often with little or no recognition.
We should do everything within our means to recognise this, and provide the support – be it financial, emotional or medical – that they require.
The Scottish Government has invested, and is investing, over £98 million in supporting carers and young carers between 2008 and 2015.
The Scottish Government is also funding in local authorities so that they can continue to fund the extra 10,000 respite weeks that we pledged for carers.
We are also working with carers' organisations as well as other groups to understand and mitigate the impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms on carers.
Many people are unaware of the huge amount that carers do on a day to day basis, and I think it is important that this is emphasised so people can be more prepared if they find themselves in a caring role.
A great way that carers can access information, advice and support is at a Carers Centre.
These centres offer a place for carers to come together and discuss their experiences and problems with other carers as well as trained volunteers.
As caring can be quite isolating, Carers Centres play a vital role in ensuring carers can cope with their responsibilities.
Carers Centres are also community based, and can offer the chance for local carers' voices to be heard by both councils and the Scottish Parliament.
In recognition of the great work done by one of the many centres in Glasgow, I am running the Glasgow Men's 10K next Sunday to raise money for the Greater Pollok Carers Centre.
I've been training over the last few weeks, and I'm sure that the exhaustion I feel when I've been out for a run is nothing compared to how carers feel at the end of each day.
Carers are some of the most politically engaged individuals I know.
Recently, Glasgow has seen a group formed to fight the decision made by City Council to close three day centres for those with learning disabilities.
The Glasgow Day Care Centres Support Group has been working to oppose this decision, with the support of SNP colleagues in the Council and the Parliament.
Last week, the city's SNP MSPs wrote to council leader Gordon Matheson in support of the Day Care Centres Support Group's proposal for a two year moratorium on the centre closures to allow proper partnership working to develop between the group, the third sector and the council.
We all hope that the Council will agree to this moratorium and we can find a way to move forward from this unfortunate decision by Glasgow City Council.
I would like to thank all of Scotland's carers for everything that they do – they truly are indispensable.