Charging social care volunteers for visas will lead to vital support being lost, organisations have warned
Charging health and social care volunteers for visas could result in priceless support being lost.
Earlier this summer, Westminster set out plans for how the immigration system will work after the Brexit transition ends. It is set to feature a fast-track visa route for healthcare workers, but this will not include social care volunteers.
Care organisations have come together to call for the plans to exempt social care volunteers from having to pay the fee.
Camphill Scotland along with partner organisations from across the UK including the ALLIANCE, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Disability Wales, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action and UNISON, have raised serious concerns regarding post-Brexit impacts on the health and social care sector over the last few years.
And their concerns were heard this week in the House of Lords, with Baroness Jolly proposing an amendment to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill which proposes removing the levy for volunteers. A total of 52 organisations from across the UK have signed up to support the amendment and the UK Government has agreed to meet Baroness Jolly to discuss the amendment.
The organisations believe requiring international volunteers, including those working in health and social care, to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, is unfair and inequitable, particularly as paid staff from other countries working in health and social care in the UK will be exempt.
They warn that the charge will lead to vital volunteers being lost. Chardon Nguyen, who is from Vietnam, travelled to Camphill Blair Drummond to support adults with learning disabilities and other support needs.
She said: “It took almost 10 months for my application and visa to the UK. It has been a great financial cost to my family, and the international health surcharge was an additional expense.
“With this increased cost, I would not be able to afford to come to the UK. It took 29 hours to travel from Vietnam to Scotland. It was my parents’ contribution and sacrifice to enable this to happen, and to ensure I had this experience and could help those in need in the UK.
“I remember my father`s words ‘If everyone chooses to do easy tasks who will do the difficult ones?` As I help to support those most in need I know I am on the right path and the orientation of my future career I have made a good choice.
“As a volunteer I am not paid so it is a huge commitment and decision to take this journey, volunteers are unpaid not because they are worthless but because they are priceless.”
Constantin Jacobs has spent his gap year volunteering for Camphill. He said: “There will be so many people that cannot afford to volunteer abroad any more. It might not sound like a huge difference for everyone but for young people who have just finished their school or their studies, and who do not have a lot of money, this difference can mean the decision to go or not to go to the UK to spend their voluntary year there. The UK would be much less attractive as a host country.”