Charity founder's anger after requests for quarantine exemption 'ignored'
- 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.
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.
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"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.
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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.
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.
Richard Bacon has been contacted for comment.