International volunteer numbers fall in face of Brexit


A Camphill volunteer 

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Volunteer Scotland have called for an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary

21st August 2018 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Scottish charities say they've seen a sharp drop in volunteers coming from overseas since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

They are calling for urgent action to save vital services that depend on long-standing programmes that recruit international volunteers from both EU and non-EU countries.

The organisations, led the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Volunteer Scotland, have written to the Home Secretary requesting an urgent meeting to ensure that international volunteering schemes are supported.

The letter – which has been backed by Camphill Scotland, Cyrenians, Volunteering Matters and L’Arche – also highlights a recent increase in visa rejections for volunteers from outside the EU. It calls on the UK Government to explain why it is refusing international volunteers entry to the country.

Camphill Scotland is just one of many organisations that relies on support from volunteers from abroad, with 170 (68%) of its 251 short-term volunteers being nationals from other EU countries.

The charity’s director Neil Henery said: “Volunteer co-workers and employees from non-EU countries also make a major contribution to the work of Camphill. We are already experiencing a negative impact from Brexit and can now also report a significant rise in the refusals of Tier 5 Charity worker visa applications from non-EU nationals.

“This is very alarming as without a supply of volunteers and staff from abroad, Camphill in Scotland could not continue in its present form to the great detriment of the over 600 people with learning disabilities and other support needs who depend on us for their care, education and support.”

SCVO chief executive Anna Fowlie said: “Charities in Scotland need to recruit more volunteers than ever, and it is vital that current volunteering schemes which help us attract volunteers from across the world are not only maintained, but further enhanced.

“We believe it is of the upmost importance that the UK Government commits to recognising the important contribution made by volunteers and voluntary workers across the UK, instead of closing the door on greatly valued and much needed volunteers from Europe and beyond.”

George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Scotland, said the letter aims to make sure that the voice of those who are being impacted by a loss in volunteers is heard, whilst Cyrenians boss Euan Aitken also spoke of a decline in successful visa applications for volunteers from outside the EU.

The letter calls for the Home Office to have a strong, effective working relationship with Scotland’s third sector, with the parties seeking discussion on how the effect of Brexit on volunteering can be mitigated and asks for the Home Secretary’s views on the Tier Five process.

TFN contacted the Home Office for a response however a spokesman said they were unable to comment.

21st August 2018 by Chas Hutchison

I will still be volunteering this time next year.Brexit. does not worry me.