A group of students from a Scottish university have launched an ambitious plan to buy a luxurious £6 million castle to house asylum seekers living in “destitution and poverty”.
The group, members of the University of Aberdeen’s Shared Planet Society is hoping to raise the funds to buy Dall Estate in Perthshire via crowd funding website www.indiegogo.com.
The deadline is 28 December.
Members say the they want to use the project to highlight the conditions in which asylum seekers live across the United Kingdom.
Government policy bars asylum seekers from working while they await decisions on their application, forcing them to rely on state support of as little as £5 a day.
According to the charity Refugee Survival Trust, which helps refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland, more than half of all asylum applicants were in destitution, many due to administrative errors and procedural delays by the Home Office.
Eva Nohe, Co-¬President of the Shared Planet Society, said she and her friends were “appalled” at the situation.
“We are appalled that asylum seekers have to face destitution and poverty in one of the richest countries in the world. It’s shocking that in the UK some people can afford to live in a castle, while others end up sleeping in the streets”, Ms Nohe says.
“Our proposal would turn the castle into quality, humane housing and community space for asylum seekers.
“A big estate like this should be used for the common good, not for some rich old man’s summer holidays”, she added.
Dall Estate sits on 265 acres in one of the most beautiful corners of the United Kingdom.
The property boasts 38 rooms as well as numerous smaller bungalows dotted around the estate. The grounds also feature tennis courts, an army assault course and an unused hydro power station.
Large estates such as Dall are common in the region which is home to numerous Middle Eastern sheikhs, the most famous of which is Mahdi Al Tajir, the Emirati billionaire who owns the Highland Spring brand and whose Perthshire properties extend to more than 30,000 acres.
As of Tuesday morning, the fundraising appeal has raised just under £2500.