Camphill School Aberdeen breaks ground on new home
North east charity Camphill School Aberdeen has marked a major step forward in the first phase of its campaign to open its doors to even more children and young people with learning disabilities and complex additional needs.
The organisation celebrated breaking ground on a modern residential home and announced a £250,000 funding boost towards the sustainable social enterprise charity called Murtle Market, which has also broken ground, during a ceremony yesterday.
The organisation, which is based across three campuses in the west of Aberdeen, has been providing day and residential support to children and young people with complex additional support needs and learning disabilities in the region for more than 80 years. It currently supports over 100 students and is aiming to raise £10 million over 10 years to expand its capacity by 60%.
Phase one of the Building Futures, Transforming Lives capital appeal will see the construction of a state-of-the-art sustainable 11-bedroom residential home on the charity’s Murtle Estate, near Bieldside, along with a zero waste social enterprise called Murtle Market, which is also situated on the Murtle Estate. It will sell organic produce, provide a refillery service, showcase the arts and crafts made by the students, as well as providing vital skills development and work experience for the young people.
The start of construction coincides with the announcement of a significant cash injection of £250,000 to Murtle Market from Social Investment Scotland (SIS), as part of the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund to accelerate the construction of Murtle Market. The fund is a £500m, 10-year commitment to support projects in the north east and Moray that contribute towards the region’s transition to net zero.
Alex Busch, executive director at Camphill School Aberdeen, said: “Many of the children and young people who come to us have struggled to thrive in mainstream education or have faced having to move to residential care hundreds of miles away from their families. In addition, we have seen a huge increase in demand for our services in recent years, so we urgently need to increase our capacity both for day and residential pupils.
“Today is the culmination of two years of hard work to raise enough funding for us to be able to begin construction on the first phase of our 10-year vision. We would like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign so far. However, this is only the beginning – we still have some way to go before we reach our phase one target on our way to raising the full £10m in 10 years.”
Today, the charity will welcome Scotland’s cabinet secretary for net zero Màiri McAllan MSP who will tour their Murtle Estate, where she will help young people bury a time capsule and wishes for Murtle Market at the site of the social enterprise.
Ms McAllan said: “I am delighted to visit Camphill School’s Murtle Market to see firsthand how this social enterprise is enabling young people with learning disabilities and very complex additional support needs to help shape to our journey to net zero. Supported by the Scottish Government through the Social Enterprise Just Transition Fund, I’m excited to see the positive impacts and benefits this project will bring to the community and the young people involved.”
As part of yesterday’s breaking ground celebrations, children and young people were joined by parents, staff, volunteers, and supporters at the charity’s Murtle Estate where both the new house and social enterprise will be located. They took part in a series of activities including an exhibition where the students showcased the organic produce and sustainable arts and crafts that would be sold in Murtle Market, writing wishes for the new buildings, and pressing apples from their organic walled garden. Aberdeenshire singer, songwriter and broadcaster, Fiona Kennedy, helped mark the special day by planning a silver birch tree near the site of the new house.
Alastair Davis, CEO of Social Investment Scotland, said: “Social enterprises like Camphill School Aberdeen and its Murtle Market have an important role to play in the Scottish Government’s plans for a wellbeing economy, supporting families and communities to thrive. The Just Transition Fund ensures support is available for organisations in the third sector to make the transition to net zero and today is an exciting milestone for this project. We look forward to Murtle Market’s opening next year.”
Dawn Rowan, whose son Seth has been a resident at Camphill School Aberdeen for almost two years, said: “Accepting that a residential placement was the best option for him was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, however, it has also turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.
“Since becoming a resident at Camphill, Seth’s development has come on leaps and bounds from where he was and he has learned many new practical skills. The work they do at Camphill is invaluable for young people like Seth and the addition of a new residential home will allow others with complex needs to receive the support they need.”
Construction of the 11-bedroom residential house is being delivered by contractor Ogilvie with Burns delivering Murtle Market. Construction of the house is expected to be completed by Autumn 2024 with Murtle Market due to open to the public Spring/Summer 2024.