Aberdeen charity reveals plans for a sustainable social enterprise hub

Aberdeen charity reveals plans for a sustainable social enterprise hub

Architect’s impression of Camphill School Aberdeen's proposed social enterprise on Deeside Road (Image credit: Camphill Architects)

An Aberdeen-based charity that provides day and residential support to over 95 children and young people with learning disabilities and complex additional support needs has submitted plans to redevelop the Camphill Bookshop into a new social enterprise hub.

Camphill School Aberdeen wants to showcase the unique history and crafts of the charity at the hub, located at the opening of its Murtle estate near Bieldside on North Deeside Road, which will also feature an organic zero-waste farm shop and refilling shop.

Named Murtle Market, it will see the book shop transformed into a ‘zero waste’ organic farm and refilling shop which will also promote the charity’s impressive 80-year history as well as showcasing the range of different crafts made by the young people it supports.

Murtle Market will be a hub for students to further their employability and relationship building skills all whilst promoting the ethos of the school and sustainable living to the wider community.

Alex Busch, executive director of Camphill School Aberdeen, said: “We are incredibly proud to be launching Murtle Market. We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for meaningful work experience and skills development for young people with learning disabilities across the North East as well as increasing demands by the local community to shop locally and organically. With the ever-growing awareness of where our food comes from, we hope Murtle Market will meet the needs of the community while also providing meaningful opportunities to our students as part of our Learning For Life day services.

“Our young people and staff were involved in naming the new store and will be involved with all aspects of the supply chain including – growing, packing, labelling, delivering and serving the public at Murtle Market which will give our students a sense of connection and relationship to wider community. The experience will give our students skills and real work opportunities that will create a portfolio of achievements as they transition to adulthood, which is incredibly important to us at Camphill School Aberdeen.”

The market will be an extension of the school’s FRUVER refilling shop on the estate and will enable the school to sell own grown organic produce to the wider community, promoting Camphill’s ethos of reducing emissions, waste and supporting the circular economy. There are also plans to extend the current onsite bike workshop and introduce home deliveries once the market is up and running.

Alex added: “As an organisation, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and be as sustainable as we can be. Sourcing organic food grown locally and seasonally, and reducing food waste are some of the most impactful things we can do to address climate change.”

The charity has seen a significant increase in demand for its day and residential services in recent years. Nationally, there is a shortage of local and national residential services for young people who need a mix of education, social and medical care. There is also a large gap in provision available for skills development opportunities for 16-25 year olds with complex additional support needs.

In response to the growing need for local support, Camphill School Aberdeen launched a capital appeal campaign at the start of the year to raise £10 million over the next 10 years. The Building Futures, Transforming Lives campaign aims to increase the charity’s capacity by 60%. 

The 10-year project will be completed in phases, the first of which is a £3.5 million project to build an 11-bedroom house, with an independent living wing and Murtle Market.

Currently, only 4% of adults with a learning disability in Scotland are in employment, according to the Fraser Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde. This is due to a lack of support to identify work opportunities and a lack of training for young people to increase their employability skills.

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