A call has been made for care workers and volunteer who risk being sent home once lockdown is eased to be allowed to extend their time in the UK
Charities have come together to call for the work that foreign health and social care workers to be rewarded.
A letter to the Home Office has requested that all non-British workers who are leading the fight against the Covid-19 virus are allowed to stay in the UK for a further year. A similar pledge was recently made to NHS workers by the Westminster government but did not cover those in social care.
The letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel has been signed by Neil Henery, director of Camphill Scotland; Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO); Annie Gunner Logan from Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS); Ian Welsh from the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE); Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care; and Volunteer Scotland’s George Thomson.
Dr Henery said: “We urge the Home Secretary to extend visas for frontline social care workers in the same way she has done for those working in the NHS – for one year free of charge.
“Our international volunteers help to look after around 650 people with learning disabilities in Scotland. With their visas running out all they have been offered is a one month extension. Many would be very glad to stay and continue to support vulnerable people at this critical time. We should be doing everything we can to help them do so.”
The letter states there are fears that international volunteers and workers could be forced to leave the UK as soon as travel restrictions are restricted.
Jeane Freeman, Scottish Government cabinet secretary for health and sport, said she will be raising the issue with the UK Government.
She said: “What our social care workers do, wherever they come from, is vitally important and they are valuable and valued, not only by those to whom they give care with such attention and compassion, but by me and the Scottish Government.
“So there is no good reason that I can see why you would take a different stand for our NHS workers as compared with our social care workers.
“Both groups are vitally important in the work that they are doing on this pandemic and actually they are vitally important every single day regardless of whether we have a pandemic or not.”
The letter also calls for reassurance to be given to those who are unable to take up a role due to the crisis that this will not impact on the length of time they are able to volunteer when finally they are able to take up their roles.
A spokesman for the UK Government said they recognise the valuable work carried out by social care staff, and will see if they can assist frontline workers during the crisis.