Volunteers at Camphill communities have continued their support despite the pandemic and Brexit
The impact of international volunteers to social care is being highlighted as they continue to support Scottish communities despite the ongoing impacts of Brexit and the coronavirus crisis.
Lockdown restrictions over the last 15 months and the impending EU Settlement Scheme deadline have created a great deal of uncertainty for workers and volunteers who come from abroad.
And a Scottish charity with a long history of international workers and volunteers has paid tribute to their efforts.
Camphill Scotland has said the contribution and commitment of international volunteers’ has never been clearer than during the current pandemic, when large numbers of international volunteers chose to remain and to help their host Camphill communities and those they support and care for, rather than to return to their own countries.
Camphill has strong international links, and has become a global movement, since the first Camphill community was established in 1940 at Milltimber, Aberdeenshire by Austrian Jewish refugees from the Nazis. The Camphill movement is international in its outlook with more than 119 communities now established in 27 countries around the world. Camphill in Scotland continues to have strong international links, and citizens from different countries make a major contribution to the work of the 11 Camphill communities in Scotland, and to the care and support they provide for people with learning disabilities and other support needs.
Against this background, Camphill Scotland and its partners are leading a campaign to ensure that the immigration health surcharge exemption for health and social care workers is extended to international volunteers working in health and social care settings, and to international volunteers working in other settings for charities in the UK.
The charity recognised their efforts during Volunteers’ Week recently, and director Emma Walker said their contributions are vital.
Walker said: “Each year hundreds of international volunteers come from across the world to Scotland to volunteer within a Camphill community. The commitment and care shown by each person - particularly since the beginning of the pandemic - is remarkable and adds to the unique environment of each Camphill. Sadly if, as a consequence of Brexit, the UK Government decides to enforce the Immigration Health Surcharge for international volunteers from EU countries, and from other countries across the World, this could have a major impact on Camphill communities, and other charities across the UK.”
Sonja, a volunteer from Germany at Camphill Corbenic near Dunkeld, described her work as a volunteer. She said: “My daily tasks are helping the residents with personal care, doing household chores, and supporting the residents in their workshops and free time. I work in the pottery workshop, and I like it very much. We can make bowls, cups and basically anything else out of clay, paint our pottery, and draw on paper with the option to make it into a linoleum cut. These different activities make the workshop versatile, and our workshop leader ensures that there is never a boring moment.”
Mine, a German volunteer at Camphill Blairdrummond, said: “The friendships I made in Camphill will surely last me a lifetime. Especially during corona times, we have all grown together so fast and close. Sometimes I feel like I have known the people for years.
“I would say that volunteering at Camphill Blair Drummond hasn’t given me specific future ideas, but it has definitely given me a lot to think about for future careers. The people have taught me so much about friendship and love, and have definitely challenged my patience more times than I can count. It feels so nice to be helpful in a place where it’s really needed!”
Alan Brown, a long serving co-worker at Newton Dee, said: “The international volunteers who have joined Newton Dee for a year or longer over the last 40 years have been essential in the development of the large vibrant community that we all benefit from today. They have made a vast contribution towards the quality of life that we have been able to establish for the 85 adults with special needs who live here as well as for the 41 adults who live in Aberdeen and come to Newton Dee each day for support and training in their daily work.
“I have lived in Newton Dee for over 40 years and have seen how those hundreds of individuals from all over the world have contributed to the social, cultural, educational and working life of the community. They have enriched the quality of life and broadened the horizons for all of us that live here, residents, co-workers and employees alike.”
Inga, a volunteer at Camphill Newton Dee, said: “The mixture of living and working together helps to get to know people and to fully integrate myself into the community.
“Over the last years I could build up many friendships which will hopefully last forever.”