Camphill School Aberdeen’s capital appeal aims to address the current crisis of residential care for young people with learning disabilities

October 19, 2023

By Alex Busch, Executive Director at Camphill School Aberdeen

Today, demand for our services has reached unprecedented levels. More and more young people are in need of our sector-leading support. In Scotland, and the UK as a whole, we are facing a care crisis.

Across the country, many services are having to cut back massively or close down completely due to financial and operational pressures. This leaves children and young people, who need additional care and their families in a vulnerable position. It is reported that there are seven million unpaid carers in the UK – a large number of these are parents of young people with disabilities and complex additional needs who do not have access to the help and support they need.

Here at Camphill, we provide day and residential support for children and young people with complex additional support needs to reach their fullest potential. Our students learn, take part in meaningful work, develop skills, build friendships and grow in confidence and independence while on our campus – the work we do is so important for the wellbeing of these young people and their families. Since 2020, we have seen a 250% rise in inquiries for our services, highlighting the urgent need for expanded capacity.

Kate Monahan, whose son Wilf is a residential student at Camphill School Aberdeen, said: “We are so lucky that Wilf secured a place in residential care at Camphill School Aberdeen, where he is settled and his needs are met, as we were in crisis. Many families aren’t as lucky and the current pressures of the cost-of-living crisis added to precarious, challenging lives will only make things worse. I am so grateful to Camphill that I now have an opportunity to help support my own family in a very different way.”

Dawn Rowan, whose son Seth would have been placed in residential care far from his family if it wasn’t for Camphill, added: “If it wasn’t for Camphill, I don’t know where I would be. It was hard enough having to make the decision to move him into residential care so finding out we might have to move him so far away added extra pressure on us.”

This is why reaching the next phase of our capital appeal, ‘Building Futures, Transforming Lives’, is so important. In direct response to the growing crisis in residential care, we aim to raise £10 million over the next 10 years, which will allow us to open our doors to an additional 54 vulnerable young people with learning disabilities. Many of these young people will have struggled in mainstream education or have faced having to move to residential care far away from their families, or being placed in hospital units as they wait for suitable care options to become available. With the current shortages we are facing in this sector, the need for increased capacity at Camphill is more vital than ever.

We recently celebrated the beginning of phase one with a breaking ground event. Phase one signifies the beginning of construction on an 11-bedroom residential house, allowing us to welcome seven new residents and four members of staff or gap year volunteers. Construction has also started on our sustainable social enterprise, Murtle Market - a zero-waste organic farm and shop, refillery and heritage hub. Murtle Market is intended to create meaningful training, work experience and develop the skills of our young people. Construction of both should be completed by Spring 2024, with Murtle Market opening in spring/summer 2024.

Although we have reached this first milestone in our fundraising efforts, we still have a long way to go to achieve our overall goal. Over the next decade, with the continued support of donors, we hope to build two more residential homes on our estate and expand the facilities we have for the development of our children and young people.

You can donate to our capital appeal, or find out more information, here.

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