Charity fears loss of EU volunteers
Hundreds from overseas help at Camphill sites
A Galloway-based charity has voiced concerns that Brexit uncertainty could deter EU and other citizens from coming to work with them.
The Loch Arthur Camphill Community at Beeswing says international volunteer workers are essential to maintain its services.
The charity runs a successful farm shop, bakery and cheese production operation and counts people with learning disabilities and other support needs among its workforce.
Loch Arthur and ten other Camphill Scotland communities are supported by 416 volunteer coworkers – 346 of them from outside the UK.
Some 110 of their 469 employees also come from outside the UK.
Dave Mitchell, chairman of the Association of Camphill communities, told the News: “We at Loch Arthur feel the EU citizens who have come to be part of the community have made an incredibly valuable contribution to Dumfries and Galloway life.
“All of those people are very happy to have the opportunity to be here and want to be able to continue making that contribution.
“We have a significant number of people from the EU in Dumfries and Galloway – far more than people realise – and they greatly add to the cultural richness of our region.”
He added: “The ties and relationships between the Camphill communities in Scotland, in the UK, and in other countries, has been a major part of the development of our movement.
“Anything which makes it more difficult to sustain these key ties and relationships could have significant consequences for the future development of the Camphill movement and the education, care and support they currently provide to people with learning disabilities and other support needs.”
Camphill employees and volunteers support more than 600 people through a wide range of social, cultural and work activities.
The minister for Europe, migration and international development, Ben Macpherson, said: “Scotland is a welcoming and progressive country and strongly values the contributions of all those who choose to make Scotland their home.
“The case is overwhelming for the Scottish Government to be able to set the rules for migration in Scotland in a tailored way that will attract and retain people with the skills we need.”
Helping hands Dave Mitchell of Loch Arthur with EU volunteers in the charity’s Beeswing shop