Volunteers at Loch Arthur have spoken of their fear for the future as the UK Government’s immigration proposals, post-Brexit, threaten to bring an effective end to Tier 3, or so-called unskilled labour, visas.
Loch Artur is a social enterprise, near Dumfries, which provides an inclusive living and working environment for men and women with learning difficulties.
Most of the volunteers at Loch Arthur are EU citizens that help the residents, through supported tenancies, to run a farm, shop, café, workshop and creamery.
Relaying the volunteers’ concerns, Ms. McAlpine said:
“Fantastic initiatives like Loch Arthur are facing a threat to their very existence. How can such organisations, reliant upon the dedication and commitment of EU migrants, be expected to cope after Brexit?
“Theresa May plans to bring an end to free movement. Well, that position blithely ignores the impact that this will have on the volunteering sector. It is a combination of the goodwill of these migrants and the freedom afforded by membership of the Single Market that allows social enterprises like Loch Arthur to flourish and really make a difference to people’s lives.
“The UK Government’s proposals fail to recognise that volunteers like the ones at Loch Arthur are highly skilled. They are teachers. They are social workers. They are occupational therapists. However, after Brexit, they will be prevented from getting a visa because they use their skills voluntarily. This should be commended and not penalised.”
Currently, no Tier 3 visas are being given out by the Home Office and under the Tories post-Brexit immigration proposals, outlined in Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative party conference, it is difficult to see how charities which depend upon EU migrants will be able to meet their recruitment demands.
The Conservatives want to end freedom of movement for EU migrants but assert that highly skilled workers will be given priority under UK Government proposals. This will mean that migrants whose salaries are under the current benchmark of £30,000 will effectively be unable to acquire a UK visa.
A spokesman for Loch Arthur, in an interview with ITV, said:
“Everyone who is living and working as part of our community is not an employee. They are all volunteers and as yet, we’ve had no clear guidance on the status of volunteers going forward.”
Ms. McAlpine has cautioned that this prohibitive salary threshold for visas will result in the end of organisational models like Loch Arthur – branding this as “a tragedy.”
Loch Arthur Camphill Community
Gregory Hoare ITV – feature on Loch Arthur
Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report: EEA migration
Theresa May’s Conservative party conference speech – full transcript
‘UK employers condemn ‘ignorant, elitist’ Brexit immigration report’