Esk Valley Camphill Community
New Shared Lives and Camphill partnership launches in North Yorkshire
A new, 80-strong Camphill community – where people with learning disabilities live and work alongside co-workers and their families – is up and running in North Yorkshire and will be formally unveiled on Saturday April 28th. The Esk Valley Camphill Community (www.eskvalleycamphill.org) 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. In addition, EVCC owns and runs the Danby Health Shop and has a community garden in the grounds of Danby Vicarage. It also contributes to the running of the local Steiner school and Flexi-Learning centre, the Moorland Waldorf Initiative. 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.” 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 also plans to create further employment opportunities by acquiring land and developing its own workshops. 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 already been accepted as an affiliate member of the Association of Camphill Communities (UK & Ireland) and is on course to achieve full membership during the course of this year. 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. We are anticipating the Esk Valley Camphill Community will be welcomed as full members of the AoCC at our forthcoming AGM.” 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 on land made available by the Rev. Michael Hazelton, the former Vicar of Danby, and the diocese of York. The community aims 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 into a resource for the wider local community. Also for the future, there is the wish to acquire and develop land and property that can support a local community hub and resource centre. EVCC and Avalon will co-host an official launch event on Saturday April 28th in Danby Village Hall.