Charity founder's anger after requests for quarantine exemption 'ignored'

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 Norfolk woman behind a vital charity in Peru has hit out at government quarantine rules after being told she wasn't  exempt from a 10 day stay in a hotel upon returning to the UK.

Jill Bignell, founder of Educateperu, returned from her charity work in Peru on October 3 and is currently having to quarantine in a government hotel for 10 days at a cost of around £2,000, as the country is on the red list.

The retired English teacher, from Saxlingham Nethergate in South Norfolk, said aid workers should not be forced to pay quarantine costs and contacted Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, to raise her concerns.

Jill Bignell pictured with those she supports.

Jill Bignell pictured with those she supports. - Credit: Jill Bignell

Ms Bignell, whose charity helps provide children with an education, said she has not received a proper response despite explaining she was "not there for holiday" and was carrying out vital work, which included organising a refuge for abused children.

The founder, who has been awarded an MBE, applied for an exemption, saying in her letter that the quarantine would come at a "huge cost" for her and her charity, having only relied on her pension to meet her expenses.

She added: "It’s not a holiday, I’m working and I do so for nothing.

Jill Bignell pictured with Leonardo, 11, outside his house.

Jill Bignell pictured with Leonardo, 11, outside his house. - Credit: Jill Bignell


You may also want to watch:


"That money will have to come out of the government Gift Aid scheme, that I usually use for repairing houses."

She added it could have been used to help Leonardo, 11, who lives with his dad and brother, who has Down's syndrome, in a three-sided room that is made of cartons, plastic and wood.

Most Read

An automated response from the Managed Quarantine Service at the Department of Health and Social Care said exemptions are only granted in the 'most extreme of cases' and people may also be granted compassionate exemptions.

A later letter to Ms Bignell said they were unable to grant an exemption and that "charitable work is not included" in the reasons for one.

Picture taken by Jill Bignell showing the condition of one of the houses.

Picture taken by Jill Bignell showing the condition of one of the houses. - Credit: Jill Bignell

But Ms Bignell said she found the decision "offensive."

She has described her hotel quarantine experience as "odd", with food being delivered in a bag outside her door, a guard located at each end of the corridor and only being able to walk around the car park for 20 minutes.

Jill Bignell pictured with those she supports.

Jill Bignell pictured with those she supports. - Credit: Jill Bignell

Richard Bacon has been contacted for comment.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter