Some 200 people gathered in Danby Village Hall to celebrate the launch of a new, 80-strong Camphill community. The Esk Valley Camphill Community is working in partnership with The Avalon Group which is the approved Shared Lives provider for North Yorkshire County Council. The Esk Valley Camphill Community (EVCC) already rents 19 properties at Botton and in the nearby villages of Ainthorpe and Castleton.
More good news followed quickly with confirmation the community has already raised the £8,000 required to equip a micro-bakery – the Bread & Brotherhood Bakery – at the Futurehealth Store in Whitby. When open, there will be a team of four people – including those with learning disabilities – baking bread two days a week to be sold at the store and supplied to EVCC households.
The new partnership of EVCC and Avalon has emerged, following a period of transition, from the Camphill Village Trust (CVT) charity. Most of EVCC’s households are within Botton Village where CVT continues to provide support and accommodation to people with learning disabilities. Whilst many EVCC members work in CVT’s workshops, the new community has launched a £1 million appeal aimed at creating further employment opportunities by acquiring land and developing its own workshops. Already EVCC co-workers have raised more than £100,000 towards this target.
Thirteen EVCC households have registered under Avalon’s Shared Lives scheme whereby adults who need support and accommodation live in family households with approved Shared Lives carers. Nationally, there are some 12,000 people involved in these schemes with all the carers undergoing rigorous training and compatibility matching. The schemes are regulated under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and The Avalon Group has been an approved Shared Lives Provider for over 20 years across Yorkshire and Teesside.
Larry Hollando, Avalon’s CEO, said: “Avalon is delighted to add to their support services in North Yorkshire with the inclusion of a number of Shared Lives households at Botton and neighbouring villages. To our knowledge this is the first initiative that brings Shared Lives into a Camphill Community and we look forward to working in close partnership with EVCC and Camphill Village Trust to ensure this approach is successful. We will also support EVCC in their efforts to add to the current community facilities and employment opportunities.”
An EVCC Co-worker and Shared Lives carer, Jonathan Reid, said: “Our ethos is firmly rooted in the ideals of Karl König, the founder of the Camphill movement. Camphill communities have always striven to establish a way of life in which the members, whether learning disabled or not, relate to each other primarily as fellow human beings – whether this is in the workplace, the home, at cultural events or in Christian celebration. The provision of care must be robust and properly regulated but should not define the fundamental relationship between community members. Everyone is a part of, and makes a contribution to, the running of the community.”
EVCC has recently been accepted as a full member of the Association of Camphill Communities (UK & Ireland).
Dave Mitchell, chairperson of the Association of Camphill Communities, said: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to see how this group of extremely dedicated people have been able to create a new Camphill Community initiative in the midst of Botton Village and in the surrounding area. Although the impetus to start Esk Valley has come from a group of very committed Camphillers they are not simply clinging on to the old forms but are positively embracing new forms of community. The partnership arrangement with Avalon and Shared Lives is an exciting development for everyone involved in the Camphill Movement and we wish them well.”
EVCC has also begun recruiting short-stay volunteers who are interested in the Camphill ethos to come and spend time in the community. They undergo an assessment and receive training from Avalon to become approved Support Carers. Currently there are six such volunteers from across Europe living in the households.
One of the first projects that EVCC is undertaking is the development of a communal garden to create a long-term, sustainable source of bio-dynamic produce, initially to provide both food and work for its members, but with the hope of developing it into a resource for the wider local community. Other initiatives include further developing sales at the Danby Health Shop which stocks organic vegetables and local produce, speciality teas & coffees, herbs and spices, nutritional supplements, essential oils and natural toiletries.