Shared Living Arrangements Preserved at Botton Following Agreement with CVT

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Botton-care industry newsCampaign group Action for Botton has confirmed the shared living arrangement of Villagers and Co-workers at the Botton community has been guaranteed for the next several months following an agreement reached today (April 1st) at the High Court with Camphill Village Trust (CVT).

 

More than 80% of the learning disabled Villagers living in the Botton community had signed a petition urging North Yorkshire County Council and CVT to let them continue to share their homes with the volunteer Co-workers who live and work alongside them.  Today’s agreement ensures the Villagers’ valued lifestyle is preserved and – particularly – that the status quo regarding living arrangements will be maintained for the duration of the legal dispute before the Court.

 

An undertaking between the parties had previously been agreed at an earlier hearing on March 19th and this more comprehensive agreement will now be in place whilst outstanding legal matters are resolved at the High Court.

 

“Our aim has always been to ensure that the learning disabled residents should not be forcibly segregated from their existing Co-worker families as these plans were obviously causing them great distress,” said Neil Davidson, chair of Action for Botton.  Co-worker claimants added ” we are fully committed to working positively and collaboratively with Botton’s local management to manage the temporary agreed changes as ordered by the court to ensure as little adverse impact as possible to the Villagers.”

 

A separate legal  hearing in the Queen’s Bench Division between a number of learning disabled residents and CVT over alleged breaches of human rights is set to start on April 15th and is unaffected by today’s agreement.

Watch Learning disability village under threat here

19 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your splendid coverage of the Botton story. In some cases the co-workers are the only real family that the residents have. We don’t normally pay our families by the hour for love, care and companionship. Neither do family members go off duty when the shift is over. That is the real difference between co-workers and care workers. There are many care workers do a wonderful job in care homes, but Camphill communities are not care homes.
    CVT Trustees are quite happy to spend valuable charity funds on professional bodies to strengthen their in-humanitarian approach to running an intentional community that was built on the very best of human values. I am pretty sick of hearing them complain that Action for Botton has forced them to spend these funds. If they hadn’t embarked on running a bulldozer through the lives of vulnerable people, the money would still be in the bank.

  2. Thank you for highlighting the worrying situation at Botton Village. Botton is a wonderful place and I would recommend a visit to anyone. We have a friend with learning disabilities who lives there and my husband and I called recently to take her out for lunch. We were warmly welcomed into the home she shares with her co-worker family. I was given full instructions on how to use the emergency medical equipment which must travel everywhere with our friend (10 out of 10 to her housemother for that – she didn’t know that I was a nurse). Our friend has lived there for nearly ten years and loves the family set-up in her home, thriving on the inter-generational interaction. It was her choice to make her home at Botton, where she has developed new skills and grown hugely in confidence. ‘Beautiful’ is the word which springs to mind were I to be asked to describe the support and care she receives.
    All charities working with vulnerable people have had to tighten up their procedures in the last few years to comply with regulations and I understand that Botton’s most recent inspection resulted in a good report. Now that the ‘bath water’ has been thrown out why on earth is the baby to be sacrificed ? I just do not understand why CVT would want to dismantle this model of care which has been so much copied internationally and has the admiration of so many. What is of greater concern is the fact that they (CVT) seem oblivious to the pain and distress that their plan of enforced segregation would cause.

  3. Thank you for this article. Articles like this make those of us who care about the real Botton community feel that someone is listening to “Action for Botton” and hearing what those who live in Botton want.
    As far as I am aware Botton is unique in the care world in that the disabled and non disabled live together by choice, without wages. We need to preserve and celebrate that uniqueness. Shift workers, no matter how nice they are, institutionalise the people they care for eventually, those people become “Care Cases” or “Clients” or “Patients”. One of the most wonderful things about Botton is the dignity and independence of those with learning disabilities who create community together with those who volunteer there. They are vulnerable people but they are also individuals living meaningful lives filled with purpose and dignity and I hope to goodness this model of care can be cherished and preserved and not turned into a run-of-the-mill care home. We have plenty of care homes in Britain, let’s preserve and cherish Botton’s unique model of life sharing, volunteer workers and much much more.

  4. Thank you Jackie Brook and the Care Industry News for telling the tragic Botton story. You are the first care magazine to not shy away and speak freely without worrying about dancing to the tune of CVT.

    CVT are not acting in the best interests of their beneficiaries. I regularly speak with many of the learning disabled living in Botton and they repeatedly tell me:
    They do not want the changes CVT are imposing.
    They want to stay living with a family (house parents and children).
    They want to stay living with co-workers.
    They don’t want paid carers.
    They want to stay living in their houses and worry about living in a house with more residents if co-workers and children are evicted.
    CVT are not listening to them and forcing through the changes anyway regardless of how ill or stressed it is making them.
    North Yorkshire Council don’t listen or care and some have even said they feel like NYCC are taking CVTs side which makes them feel very vulnerable.

    CVT as a charity have for some time behaved despicably towards Botton residents and co-workers. The arrogance of CVT Trustees and managers is that they act and behave as if they are above the law. Sadly, many of the agencies there to regulate and protect the vulnerable disabled, all seem to support and side with CVT. Friends in high places many say.

    NYCC didn’t have to opt to tick the box of being a co-defendant at the High Court. They could have chosen to side with Botton residents. Anyone would think a deal had been struck between CVT and NYCC. No wonder Botton residents feel vulnerable and are very scared.

    Right now, 7 co-workers and 5 children have had their access to food and money withdrawn by CVT – a disgraceful charity! Shame on you CVT!

    CVT, we will keep shining a light on your very bad behavior and the personal grudges of some of the trustees. All Trustees and managers – you have to go!

  5. I am one of the two NHS GPs (of Danby Surgery near Whitby) for Botton Village with many years experience of being doctor to this community. I can say that the co-workers are caring and compassionate people who do provide high quality care and a safe and empowering environment to the vulnerable adults, who have always enjoyed excellent health and wellbeing in Botton, far better than they could reasonably have expected in mainstream care provision. This is also the view of the Care Quality Commission in their recent inspections. I always find that Botton’s homes are filled with real life, much love, and fun and happiness. Cannot the charity welcome these co-workers who created all this with the villagers with open arms and celebrate their achievements, and begin to re-establish partnership and trust? With the vast experience and intelligence on both sides and the love and commitment to the cause that is undeniably present in the co-workers, they could find a creative and collaborative solution that would also be in the best interest of the disabled people. Not simply going back, of course, but going forward, together, as a community that is still Camphill with its brilliant principles and values, that continues to meet all its obligations and that will be sustainable and relevant for many years to come. I have no doubt that this is legally and practically possible if there is a real will to do that.

  6. Thankyou Care Industry News for publishing about this very interesting social community and the trials it is going through at the hands of their umbrella organisation. Such a pity to change a very succesful shared-living arrangement into a commercial care-provider.

  7. Thank you Care Industry News for taking the time to report on the tragic events unfolding at Botton Villager and other CVT communities. The CVT trustees must be held accountable for the descruction of these intentional communities.

  8. Dear ‘CVT official’ and Ben Furner (CVT’s PR company),

    With reference to your recent press release on behalf of the CVT and your ongoing campaign, can I ask that in the interest of honest and open communication you also inform the public of the following:
    The HMRC have never requested that CVT change the status of co-workers.
    The agreement with HMRC remains in place and is still valid for Camphill co-workers.
    CVT chose without consultation with those concerned to change this status and to impose change on the ground in the form of imposing managers on a previously self determining and autonomous community. The CVT were well aware of the implications of this act and could have chosen to modernise the community whilst protecting the co-worker model – and importantly they can still decide to do this at any time today. Many other non CVT Camphill communities within the UK do this very successfully.
    The whistleblowing regarding excessive spending in The Croft Community was found to have no substance. The Charity Commission confirmed this. An independent investigation by Angela Bowbanks concluded that the Trustees should have no concerns that charity funds were being abused. Yet, Frances Wright, Huw John and other ‘CVT officials’ continue to trot out this lie in the hope of furthering their cause and discrediting the co-workers.
    Whilst CVT and you now declare with abominable arrogance that CVT have previously offered temporary employment, please will you also state that CVT also offered co-workers the option of becoming guest volunteers and maligned them publicly when they did not at first take up this offer. When they subsequently made this offer as a way of reducing the impact on the villagers and the charity, Frances Wright put every block possible in their way, issuing the night before the injunction several pages of scaremongering thus rendering this option impossible.
    Co-workers do pay tax and have always been registered as self employed for this purpose. They live in community with those with learning disabilities and therefore the obvious provision of accommodation, food, holidays etc is necessary for the trust to fulfil its objectives. The trust indirectly does this for its employees in the form of wages (increasingly vast salaries for the CEO and managers). The big difference is that co-workers draw on financial funds when they need them and they cannot trade this entitlement/benefit for cash, unlike employees who are given the money regardless and keep any surplus in their bank accounts. A clear loss to the trust ! The continuous parroting that co-workers receive “free accommodation, food and holidays’ is a known misrepresentation of the facts and implies that they are not entitled to this, which they clearly are and these can be shown to be incidental to delivering the objects of the charity.
    The co-workers who have agreed to become temporary employees as part of the legal undertaking WILL NOT be signing employment contacts with the CVT, this is purely for tax purposes, similar to their status as “self employed” for the purposes of tax up to this point.
    Please also will you instruct the CVT official (and Frances Wright) who comment on the online articles to refer to the CQC report of August 2013 as the latest glowing report for Botton Village. It does look bad if even their own staff are not aware of the latest reports or deliberately seek to falsely represent the charity.

    According to the head of CVT, Frances Wright, the changes CVT are ‘required’ to make were for tax reasons and not because the co-workers were bad and terrible people. It is unfair, unjust and simply lying to change and invent new reasons as soon as holes in this argument are seen. Therefore, please stop your negative campaign of attack on the co-workers. There are many many good and committed people living and working at Botton, they have made this huge compromise to protect a way of life that is very valuable and which the villagers want and which huge numbers of people, locally, nationally and internationally want. The demonisation of the very people who have made the CVT such a wealthy, popular and hugely successful charity serves no one, least of all the CVT who considers itself to be a value based organisation. They need to start standing up for these principles.

    Lastly, It is a very mean and despicable act to use the situation in The Grange to further your cause. The inhuman pressure these few co-workers were put under to sign up to employment only leaves CVT in a shameful position. Please report this in your next statement.
    I would look closely at the facts of this case before you risk your reputation and I would not believe what you hear from CVT.

    Catherine van Dam

  9. Former chair Chris Cook declared to members of the’ stood down Botton LMC in 2012 that it was ‘too dangerous’ for co-workers to live with villagers .
    Huw John , has appointed 3 General Managers to Botton .
    The first (in Nov 2011) was Catherine Mc Clure who declared to me on her second day in the job that she had no interest in co-workers only villagers . HJ sacked her after 3 months , maybe because she hadn’t actually ‘declared war’ on the co-workers .
    HJ then promoted a Care and Support Manager (appointed a few weeks earlier) as the second GM .
    He attempted to involve co-workers in a ‘functional’ management group but again he didn’t ‘declare war’ on the co-workers and he fizzled out / resigned after less than a year in the job .
    After a short ‘gap’ HJ then brought in his ‘star player’ , David Knowles , a seasoned campaigner fresh from the battlefields of Larchfield and Croft where the co-workers had been soundly beaten or converted and ‘sympathisers’ hd been shown the door .
    War was duly declared on both co-workers and sympathisers and ‘new rules’ were introduced which marginalised anyone who showed any affinity to the co-workers or the life sharing model .
    The management committee was purged of co-workers and a new breed of paid co-workers , the so called Gerald Group , were ‘rewarded’ with the promise of paid jobs as long as they ceased to act as house parents and moved into what was called co-housing , i.e. a house without any villagers where they could lead their own lives as guardians to their former Botton families .
    After over a year of threats and intimidation some co-workers left and others were stripped of any management responsibility as the GM moved faithfully towards the National Management structure which HJ was creating
    while his GM driven co-worker purges continued in the remaining 8 CVT villages .
    The resistance shown by the Botton co-workers was beginning to show and so HJ decided (with the acquiescence of his drastically reformed / purged board of trustees) that he would issue his May 2014 ultimatum
    to co-workers – Accept employment or leave your village homes .
    Action for Botton was formed , immediately , by Botton’s professional friends and supporters and the rest is ‘recent history’ .
    The ONLY reason this so called charity appears to be offering an ‘olive branch’ to co-workers is because Action for Botton has gained so much support , raised a lot of money and escalated the ‘stage’ from a bullied
    village to the High Court !
    Even now the CVT scheming master mind , we know who she is , is trying to ‘confuse’ the real issue with vehement half truths and clog the system with unnecessary and vindictive paperwork hoping that A4B will run out of money before CVT has squandered all those millions from gifts and legacies to fuel their bonfire vanities .
    Lets hope British Justice will smoke them out from their politically correct Trojan Horse which entered the magic kingdom of Camphill when Chris Cook unlocked the gates in 2011 .
    It amazes me that they have the gall to turn up ‘for work’ where they are not needed , not wanted , distrusted and definitely not liked to further persecute our Botton Community .
    Recent defections from CVT management may indicate that they are beginning to understand the damage that has been done by their poisonous leadership .

  10. I think that before we trust anything that you tell us Mr (or Ms) CVT ‘Official’, you should tell the public exactly who you are. Why the secrecy? There is no ‘gagging’ order on you I presume and no danger of being singled out or bullied. Do you have something or someone you need to hide from? Have the courage of your convictions.

  11. Thank you to Care Industry News for this article, which highlights the worrying situation, which has arisen at Botton Village. My thanks go to the co- workers for the sacrifices they have made in order to stay looking after the learning disabled residents in the shared living model, which has operated so successfully for so long, and which is renowned worldwide as an example of excellent care provision. It is a shame that there was no consultation with co- workers, villagers or their relatives before CVT tried to impose a shift system of care workers, which would have prevented shared living front continuing, and would have removed co- workers from houses and from the learning disabled who trust them implicitly, This would have left villagers truly bereft to lose the people whom they regard as family, and whom they have lived with, in some cases, for over 20 years. The voices of the villagers, whom CVT call ‘the people we support’, went unheard in this distressing process, when all they wanted was to continue living as they had always done, in a community environment where they are valued, and have dignity, support and purpose. For the moment, the status quo has been protected, but it has come at a high cost, both emotionally and financially, to the co- workers, and has caused untold distress to the most vulnerable in our society, whom the charity is charged to protect. Please keep reporting on what is happening at Botton; your efforts are much appreciated by those concerned to protect this wonderful place.

    • In all my many years of association with Botton Village, I have rejoiced in the fact that there is no artificial dividing line between co-workers and villagers. Karl Koenig’s near miraculous vision was that tasks and responsibilities would be distributed according to ability, with everyone sharing the whole. All community members would therefore have been “The People we Support”, as far as any umbrella Charity was concerned.
      Instead we now see a deliberate isolation of the Villagers from the co-workers in CVT ‘speak’. ‘Community’ is no longer a definition which CVT appears to understand.

  12. Thank you Jackie Brook and the Care Industry News for shining a spotlight onto the crisis in Botton Village. Our local press has been faithfully following the story for months now, but this is the first industry publication that has braved the CVT PR/legal bullies. As you will see from the comments, this is a story of great interest to many people, long my your reporting continue!

  13. All the credit for this development goes to the brave co workers who have endured constant slander and untruths from CVT in an effort to undermine their invaluable contributions over so many years. The fact that they are still there united is a true testament of there beliefs in their chosen vocation.

    It should always be remembered that Botton has been created as a community revered the world over for very many years on the backs of the efforts of many people, who do not include any of the so called executive mangers who now seek to bleed the charity dry.

  14. Thank you for following up with the development of the trials (literally) and tribulations of Botton Village. I believe that a very significant number of Villagers (approx 48/90)and their families will feel safer and calmer now, due to the fact that their homes and their families will not be disrupted for the time being.

    Villagers’ families are also grateful to the coworkers who have remained at Botton under difficult conditions, in order to continue providing a continuous and meaningful work and community life to the beneficiaries of the community and the Camphill Village Trust. They appreciate that it must have been a hard decision for the Coworkers to accept even temporary employment to these ends, since the basis of a Camphill Intentional Community is a non contractual relationship between the coworkers, the charity and the people that live in the community.
    Regrettably, it seems that CVT are now removing coworkers from the workshops. The CVT have people who have collectively decades of experiance in providing what many consider to be the best care in the country, real work (for example baking bread for the Village; there is a multitude of choices), leisure and spiritual fulfillment, while also running workshops and running the community at all levels of management, who have now been reduced to 37 hrs/week providing care in the home. It seems like a huge waste of talent and potential and one can only wonder at the reasoning behind the CEO and his colleagues, or indeed the Trustees.

    How unfortunate that the CVT did not discuss other options proposed by the Coworkers some years back.

    To date there has been no best interest meetings about the beneficiaries’ radical change of care provision, Shared Living to supported living, as laid out in the MCA 2005. It will be interesting to see how things go under the new Care Act 2014, now that CVT will be considered a public body and when both care providers and commissioners are obliged to listen to the people with learning disabilities and their families, as to how their live and who with. The Commissioners are also obliged to provide choice, not take it away.

  15. We’re pleased that agreement could be reached in court on 1st April between the charity and those campaigning against us. This means that those Botton Village co-workers opposed to change have the option to be treated as employees of the charity until the case is heard in full, which may be some months away.

    The option of temporary employment was offered several months ago by the charity. The agreement means that co-workers can continue to live with the people we support and receive a salary equivalent to other social care workers.

    For the charity, it means that we will have the confidence that we are complying with our regulatory duties and providing the standard of care at Botton that people expect from us.

    The agreement made includes five co-workers. We very much hope the remaining co-workers will also sign up to this negotiated agreement and, by doing so, help reduce the tension being experienced by people with learning disabilities within Botton Village. We will all continue to work to reach a constructive resolution to the dispute.

    The positive outcome in court followed the decision of co-workers in another Camphill Village Trust community, the Grange in Gloucester, to become employees. This means that Botton Village is the only remaining community run by the charity where some co-workers have yet to adopt permanent employment status.

    • The offer made 7 months ago definitely did not include shared living which is what this article is celebrating. It is disingenuous to imply that the CVT would have allowed shared living to continue without the massive PR and legal pressure that the community has brought against the company. The ‘decision’ made by coworkers at the Grange to accept employment was the result of a sustained campaign of bullying and intimidation. The CVT official is hoping that gagging orders signed by all new employees will prevent this information from being made public. The CVT official is wrong.

      • Gagging again? Oh dear, it isn’t the first time either we have heard about that. I am afraid that a culture like this increases risks of whistle blowing and misuse of safe guarding complaints and ultimately abuse of the beneficiaries; in general a distrustful environment and not one to be proud of, especially when working for vulnerable people. I think I would be worried if I had to run any organisation on that sort of basis.

        The membership has been suspended…again.

        Tony Benn’s 5 Essential Questions of Democracy, recently quoted elsewhere, should be asked of CVT:

        What power have you got?
        Where did you get it from?
        In whose interest do you use it?
        To whom are you accountable?
        How do we get rid of you?

    • Everybody is well aware of the disgraceful pressure applied to the co workers of The Grange in order to get them to sign to become employees – to even hint that this was a process that was willingly entered into is simply outrageous.

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