Camphill School in Aberdeen will soon have a brand new residential home as part of a major expansion.
In a breaking ground ceremony yesterday, the north-east charity marked a major step forward in its expansion plans.
It aims to open its doors to more children and young people with learning disabilities and complex additional needs.
Camphill School Aberdeen is based across three campuses in the west of Aberdeen.
It has provided day and residential support to children and young people with disabilities in the region since 1940.
Camphill School Aberdeen supports more than 100 students, but demand is growing
Camphill currently supports more than 100 students and is aiming to raise £10 million over 10 years to expand its capacity by 60%.
At a ceremony in Bieldside, TV presenter and musician Fiona Kennedy planted a tree to mark the breaking of ground on the project.
Work on the state-of-the-art, sustainable 11-bedroom residential home on the charity’s Murtle Estate is expected to be completed by autumn 2024.
The complex will include a zero-waste social enterprise called Murtle Market.
It will sell organic produce, provide a refilling service, showcase arts and crafts made by students, as well as providing vital skills development and work experience for youngsters.
The start of construction coincides with the announcement of a significant cash injection of £250,000 to Murtle Market from Social Investment Scotland (SIS).
Camphill ‘vital’ when mainstream education isn’t feasible
Alex Busch is executive director at Camphill School Aberdeen.
“I’m very excited, and humbled to be breaking ground on this project,” he said.
“We had a few difficult years with Covid and everything going on but we’ve managed to secure funding so that we can start building now, which is pretty amazing.
“However, this is only the beginning – we still have some way to go.”
He added: “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.
“We’ve also 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.
“There aren’t many providers in the area, or north of here, that provide the specialised care that we do.
“What Camphill provides is vital for parents who want to return to work and be part of everyday society.
“And it’s vital for those young people to have opportunities to learn and develop and live meaningful lives.”
Local celebrity helped kick off celebrations
Children and young people were joined by parents, staff, volunteers, and supporters at yesterday’s celebrations.
They took part in a series of activities including an exhibition where the students showcased the organic produce and sustainable arts and crafts that will be sold in Murtle Market, writing wishes for the new buildings, and pressing apples from their organic walled garden.
Aberdeenshire’s own Fiona Kennedy helped mark the special day by planting a silver birch tree near the site of the new house.
This replaced one that was lost during Storm Arwen.
‘Sending my son to Camphill School Aberdeen was the best decision I ever made’
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.
Murtle Market is due to open to the public in spring or summer 2024.