All party support gained for the preservation of the vocational volunteer co-worker model at Botton village


westminster 3An Early Day Motion – No 249 – filed this Parliamentary session which supports the preservation of the proven Shared Living Community model at the Botton community for the learning disabled near Whitby has won support from over 35 MPs drawn from every UK political party.

The EDM calls for Camphill Village Trust management to work with all authorities including CQC, NHS, Local Authorities, HMRC and the Charity Commission specifically in order to retain and preserve the caring, safe and much valued Co-worker Shared-Life Community at Botton that residents and their families choose.

The motion states:

This House notes that until recently, Botton Village, a Camphill Community of 60 years’ standing, offered a shared way of life for learning-disabled adults alongside volunteer co-workers, living as equals, sharing home, work, culture and recreation;…. / and concludes /…. is concerned about reports from families of residents at Botton Village that the loss of the residents’ chosen lifestyle, of their home and family life as they know it, and the removal of very dear friends, is causing distress to learning-disabled residents; and therefore urges CVT to work with the authorities to revert to a volunteer co-worker model at Botton Village

MPs from all political parties across the UK* have now signed the EDM as they recognise the tremendous national value of the Camphill Shared Living Community model.  The established benefits offered by the model include increased wellbeing (physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual) for all community residents (both learning disabled and able-bodied).  It is also extremely cost-effective and affords a range of provable economic benefits to the wider society**.

CVTCaroline Lucas MP, who initially proposed the same motion at the end of the last session of Parliament said: “The Camphill community model of social care, has offered a shared and sustainable way of life for learning-disabled adults alongside Vocational Co-workers, living as equals, sharing home, work, culture and recreation, for decades.  I am very pleased to support them and it would be such a loss if this exemplary model community were to disappear”.

Whilst Alex Salmond MP, who was one of the signatories to the EDM, added: “The Camphill movement was founded in Scotland and is recognised widely as a national asset. I have personal experience of Camphill and have long supported its aims so am pleased to support this EDM”.

In addition to the above, the motion is also supported by regional MPs Roberta Blackman-Woods and Julian Sturdy as well as Catherine West, Norman Lamb, Tim Farron, Jonathan Edwards, Mark Durkan, Nigel Dodds, Douglas Carswell, Peter Bottomley, and the UK’s only independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon amongst many others.

Dr Simon Duffy, of The Centre for Welfare Reform, commented: “There is significant evidence that shared living is a valuable model of support for some people. As long as people have the right to select the support that works for best them then shared living should not just be an option, it should be a highly valued option.

Neil Davidson, the Chair of Action for Botton commented that “It might seem remarkable to many, that politicians from across the political spectrum support this motion. What is truly remarkable however is that for 60 years Botton has quietly practised the Camphill community way of life – the very sort of shared life care that has now been established as being cheaper but also safer than other systems“.

Since the original proposal of this EDM, Claimants and the Charity have entered a process of legal mediation. The key part of the progress being made is the exploration of the Shared Lives Plus model as a way to retain shared living within Botton and the engagement by the parties of a specialist social care advisor Caroline Tomlinson to assist with this.

In view of the synergy between the two models we are really optimistic that CVT have in their hands a proposal that will preserve the proven shared lives model which has been so successful for many years,” added Neil Davidson. “A successful and speedy outcome to the mediation is now well within our grasp which will certainly please the many MPs who supported the EDM.”

The news of universal political support comes hard on the heels of a new study being published by the Centre for Welfare Reform author Maria Lyons and medical evidence by Dr Marcus van Dam, a longstanding GP for the residents of Botton, who has presented data highlighting the health benefits of the community lifestyle at Botton and resulting cost-savings to the NHS.

Dr van Dam commented: “I am not surprised that there is substantial cross-party support for the world renowned Camphill Shared Lives model at Botton from those who really understand the issues. We have been able to show that also from a medical perspective Camphill is a superior model of supporting people with learning disability.

We audited our learning disability health check data of 2010 (the last time the community was wholly VVC Shared-living) and found that only 15% were obese, which is about half the prevailing rate of the UK, with diabetes being very rare (1%). Similarly, mental illness and challenging behaviour have always been much less common in Botton (15%, vs 40% UK-wide) and psychotropic medication required less frequently (12%, vs 30% in the UK)”.

He added: “I have seen a degree of contentment, happiness and stability that I believe is unparalleled for people with learning disabilities. I am convinced that their excellent health and wellbeing is a result of Botton’s way of life, where people live as friends with and without disabilities, have a stable network of relationships, meaningful jobs and roles, enjoy a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity.”



  1. It is very reassuring to hear that there are still personalities among
    those who represent us in parliament who are not only concerned with rules and regulations for the health and safety of our loved ones. They realize that providing a home in which they become an integral part of a real family is a fundamental need for the health and happiness of all of us and especially for those who need our protection. The wonder of this has already been undermined considerably by the CVT who have done everything possible to remove the voluntary living in families and to replace them with paid staff who come in on a 9-5 basis thus undermining the ethos of intentional communities of which Botton has been an example for the last 70 years.

  2. Excellent news and very encouraging that this EDM is being supported by all political parties, and that politicians are recognising the many benefits offered to the learning disabled by Shared Living in a proper community, where they are valued and lead purposeful and happy lives. Botton has long been a beacon of how to truly care for those with learning disabilities without being a mere service provider or care home; these vulnerable people must be offered a choice about who they live with and how they would like to live, and the Volunteer Vocational Co-Worker model offers them the family-centred supportive network, in which they clearly flourish. Let us hope that this way of life continues to be offered at Botton; it is a proven success and also cost-effective and a common-sense way forward in social care.

  3. This is an exciting acknowledgement of the benefits of a Shared Living Community. It is interesting to see the support from Scotland and Northern Ireland where they have many thriving Camphill Shared Living Communities still. Botton was where Shared Living started, 60 years ago, and there is still a place for it today, for those that choose it. CVT has for many years now provided a range of care models within their rural and urban communities. It is good to see that this form of care is being acknowledge and praised by leading care reformers like Simon Duffy

  4. At last a recognisable breakaway from the hallowed one size fits all dogma! At last recognition that there is more than one kind of ‘community! People with learning disabilities are all individuals and valued people in their own right and as such are entitled to make choices about whom they prefer to reside with and who they choose to spent their social and vocational time with. For the past three decades these rights have increasingly been denied to the people concerned and their carers and will continue to be denied whilst policies are influenced by the wrong people and implemented by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Organisation. It is long past the time for change – can we hope that the wind of change will at last blow in the right direction?

  5. I could not be happier. It is so right and important that Botton be acknowledged for its Importance to people with special needs and caregivers who choose the Lifestyle in which the people in Botton live. It is a very worthwhile endeavor for everyone involved. Job well done….everyone involved in rectifying the situation of the past few years.

  6. CVT board

    please get rid of your 100.000 a year CEO mr John
    and your advisors are WRONG!! SACK THEM
    get people who have real
    Camphill experience!!
    good luck CAMPHILL , LOVE YOU!!!

  7. It’s fantastic news to hear a positive step towards saving the precious way of life in communities like Botton! Great to hear that it’s widely supported and acknowledged.

  8. Only those who visit Botton Community and talk to those who live there can appreciate how precious this alternative way of life is compared to living in a conventional care home .
    Although the Camphill way of life is admired and repeated in over 100 Camphills in many countries
    it is still viewed with suspicion by the UK social world and many of the UK Local Authorities some of whom
    will not place or fund residents in Camphill communities unless all the staff are employed and under the control of so called professional care managers who have no experience or understanding of intentional community living .
    Thank goodness there is a growing political awareness that the Camphill way is not only beneficial to all those that live there but has shown itself to be a far cheaper alternative than a ‘top down’ service provider / service user provider .
    Botton Village is determined to preserve the Camphill way of life at Botton community where it all began 60 years ago .
    The other 8 CVT communities have dispensed with those who made it happen i.e. the volunteer co-workers
    leaving only their ghosts behind and up to now NO WAY BACK .

  9. Common sense prevails at last! The corporate managerialist model is not the only one, and is often not appropriate for a community such as Botton. The Trustees need to sit up and take notice, eat a bit of humble pie and start to work together in partnership with what are after all committed co-workers who are only wanting to do the best thing for the future. They represent the antidote to the anti-social element which rules society at present. Trustees should treasure them, support them , empower them , appreciate them , learn from them,………………………they are the true leaders.

  10. It’s a very rare event when all the political parties agree on something! MPs obviously see the clear benefits in the Camphill model. Shared living, meaningful work and community life at a far lower cost than the conventional care package offered by others. The relationship based support of Botton village results in happier, healthier community members. Long may it continue.


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