Dear Friends of Botton and Action for Botton
Action for Botton’s objective has always been to support the wonderful and much loved community of friends and volunteers, of people with and without learning disabilities sharing their lives and working together in Botton Village, each person valued equally irrespective of ability or disability. This is what this Camphill community had always been about. Sadly, this popular way of life came under threat from directors of the Charity Camphill Village Trust (CVT) four years ago, and Action for Botton was formed to support and protect the community together with its many friends and families. It felt like David against Goliath, but after an arduous campaign and legal battle, which has now concluded, we are pleased that a community of co-workers and people with learning disabilities will continue in and around Botton under the name of the Esk Valley Camphill Community (EVCC). We invite you to visit their website and like their Facebook page to follow and support their wonderful work.
The net result of recent changes is that the Botton community has been split in two. On the CVT side there are no more co-workers; in seven houses, care workers employed by CVT provide support to large groups of learning disabled tenants, as well as for some living individually. CVT still owns all the land and houses. On the EVCC side, in the thirteen houses rented from CVT by our friends, the co-workers (couples or families) are sharing their lives with three learning disabled villagers each and are getting paid as self-employed Shared Lives carers. They also rent six additional houses in and around Botton, own the Danby village shop and their own pool car fleet. There are now again some enthusiastic young co-workers (guest volunteers) living with them, as they always used to do. Of the over 50 co-workers in Botton a few years ago some have left or retired, whilst others have joined them to be part of the new EVCC.
The last four years have been tough on these co-workers and their families, but they never doubted they were doing the right thing, encouraged by the active backing of the relatives of disabled residents, and their many friends worldwide. We must remember that it was co-workers who developed Botton village from its humble beginnings in 1955, who have created the many homes, grown and cultivated the renowned biodynamic farms and gardens, established the inclusive workshops and enterprises as well as the powerful fundraising scheme based on the 'magic' of truly inclusive community, which has made the CVT so wealthy. It was all their work, but all this is now in the hands of the charity who refuses co-workers any further participation and use of these 'assets' - the buildings, land, workshops and funds raised - except for the houses they rent back from the charity. As a result, prime biodynamic land and gardens have been neglected and three of the five farms closed, yet the charity will not let co-workers take care of any of it.
All this still feels like a breach of trust, an injustice that many would like to shout from the rooftops. However, our friends are now on a solid footing, supported by a new provider, Avalon, more sympathetic to their ideals, and are starting to regenerate as a life-sharing Camphill community. Their genuine hope is that, over time, all in Botton will discover common ground and rebuild bridges. The battle has ended and there is also no longer a need for Action for Botton as a company, publicity campaign and fundraiser for costly legal support. However, since it is no longer receiving support from its original charity, the Camphill Village Trust, the Esk Valley Camphill Community is asking you for your ongoing support and donations.
This website will no longer be updated but will remain as a historical document. There are five sections, accessible from the list on the left-hand side: a timeline, information about Camphill and about Botton's recent struggle, the comments by supporters, and a collection of references.
The TIMELINE allows you to get a quick overview of the series of events triggered by a letter from the charity May 2014 and concluding with the recent settlement of mediation at the High Court. Click the links to dive deeper into any issues that interest you.
The next section describes BOTTON VILLAGE, established in 1955, a place and community where people with and without learning disabilities have been living together as friends; how it worked and why. It also explains the legal and financial foundations of this unique sustainable project.
However, Botton’s way of life came under threat when its charity directors (Camphill Village Trust, CVT) changed course and took the decision to transform what was a living community of friends and volunteers into a professional care provider. Instead of living together they wanted employed staff, no longer living with the people that they saw as clients. The articles in this section describe THE STRUGGLE, challenging the charity’s arguments and shedding light on its attempts to submit and evict volunteer co-workers.
Botton Village, which is part of the international Camphill movement, has a huge number of friends and supporters across the world, who have watched the charity’s actions with great concern and have lent generous moral and financial support to Botton’s co-workers and Action for Botton. Please do have a look at the VOICES OF SUPPORT section for the many moving comments; they speak volumes.
The REFERENCES contain many files and documents, newspaper articles, audio and video material, and links to websites.
The directors of Action for Botton would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your support over the recent years and hope that you will support our friends of the ESK VALLEY CAMPHILL COMMUNITY (EVCC) as it continues the Camphill way of life in and around Botton Village.