Students aim to raise £6m to buy a castle for asylum seekers

Activists want to crowfund the purchase of Dall Estate

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The Independent Online

A castle boasting no less than 38 bedrooms, a number of separate houses across the land, a golf course, three tennis courts, a swimming pool, a boathouse, an army assault course and its own laboratory does not sound like a bad place to live, especially for those accustomed to a lot less.

A group of students, members of Aberdeen University's Shared Planet Society, hope to raise £6 million over the next 59 days for new digs in Highland Perthshire for refugees to live in, in one of the most ambitious crowdfunding endeavours ever undertaken.

According to the brochure, Dall Estate is located on the south shore of Loch Rannoch and dates back to 1347.

The group embarked on this mission determined to help right some of the social injustices which plague Britian. One of the students, Darroch Bratt, notes the irony of the project and says, “That particular place has been earmarked before as being a sort of a billionaire’s paradise and we thought that there’s got to be a better use for it”.

If that particular estate is sold before they reach their target, the students pledge to find another castle to act as a safe haven in its place.

They recognise a significant flaw in the system, with refugees and asylum seekers being left in an indefinite state of limbo with limited support and few rights. Bratt says how “not being able to work or claim benefits, it leaves probably the most vulnerable group of people in the world in an even more vulnerable position”.

52 per cent of applicants to the Refugee Survival Trust were living in poverty due to administrative errors and delays, and almost a third of applicants were homeless.

The students believe they can make an impact even if it is just by getting people talking about it, in which case they have already achieved a lot.

If successful, the fundraisers seek to give something back, offering a chance to “visit and experience the unique atmosphere of a left-wing radical community living in a gentrified commune called Comrades of the Glen”.

At the time of going to press £1,622 has been raised over less than a 48-hour period.