Calls for government to axe quarantine costs for aid workers

Jill Bignell founder of Educate Peru says aid workers should not be forced to pay quarantine costs

Jill Bignell founder of Educate Peru says aid workers should not be forced to pay quarantine costs after returning from red-listed countries. - Credit: Jill Bignell

The founder of a charity in Peru says aid workers should not be forced to pay quarantine costs after returning from red listed countries, as restrictions on foreign travel are set to lift from May 17.

Jill Bignell is the founder of Educateperu, a charity which has been helping to provide children with an education in the village of Pachacútec. 

Pupils at Saxlingham St. Mary’s school in Peru, in the village of Pachacutec.

Pupils at Saxlingham St. Mary’s school in Peru, in the village of Pachacutec. The school was built by the charity Educateperu – whose founder is Jill Bignell. - Credit: Jill Bignell

The retired English Teacher from Saxlingham Nethergate, in South Norfolk, said it has been more than a year since she has been able to return to the country.

And the only way she will be able go back to continue her vital work will be to pay £1750 for a hotel room where she will be forced to quarantine for ten days when she gets back to the UK.

From 17 May, people in England and Scotland can take holidays abroad in a small number of so-called "green" countries without having to quarantine when they return. 

But for red listed countries, which includes Peru, India and Ethiopia, the quarantine rules will be in place. 

Jill Bignell (middle) is the founder of the charity Educateperu.

Jill Bignell (middle) is the founder of the charity Educateperu. - Credit: Jill Bignell


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Ms Bignell, who received an MBE in 2019, said: “I understand you shouldn’t go on holiday and I understand the governments restrictions of £1750 is to put people off going. But the fact is, I don’t have £1750 to pay to go to volunteer for nothing and help children get an education. 

"So why aren’t there any exemptions? 

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“You don't volunteer to work in a healthy country, you go to a poor country which will most likely be a red listed country. 

“I don't see why I have got to pay that when the government won’t be more flexible with their thinking.” 

Pupils at Saxlingham St. Mary’s school in Peru, in the village of Pachacutec

Pupils at Saxlingham St. Mary’s school in Peru, in the village of Pachacutec. The school was built by the charity Educateperu – whose founder is Jill Bignell. - Credit: Jill Bignell

Writing to Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ms Bignell has asked for exemptions for aid workers abroad and instead suggested quarantining at home with ankle tags or "secure taxis home" with track and trace phone calls.

In the letter, she wrote: "I very much fear that in June, even “permitted” visitors like me, (I count as a volunteer as I work for nothing and I have a flat there) upon returning from the “red list” countries like Peru, will still have to pay £1,750.

"I run Educateperu on my own. Working in Pachacútec, north of Lima most certainly is not a holiday but I cannot do my vital work without physically being there."

Richard Bacon was contacted for comment.

For more information about the charity visit its website here, http://educateperu.org/.

Pupils at Saxlingham St. Mary’s school in Peru, in the village of Pachacutec

Pupils at Saxlingham St. Mary’s school in Peru, in the village of Pachacutec. The school was built by the charity Educateperu – whose founder is Jill Bignell. - Credit: Jill Bignell

Jill Bignell founder of Educateperu in 2016 visiting families in the village of Pachacútec.

Jill Bignell founder of Educateperu in 2016 visiting families in the village of Pachacútec. - Credit: Jill Bignell

Jill Bignell founder of Educateperu is set to open a bakery school in Peru to help students who cannot afford university.

Jill Bignell founder of Educateperu is set to open a bakery school in Peru to help students who cannot afford university. - Credit: Jill Bignell


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