Life-sharing in Botton …
… means to have a place we call home. Not just housing or co-housing. Our homes are filled with the life and the presence of those we share it with, a mix of old and young, a mix of people with and without learning disabilities.
… is seeing and being with the actual person in others, not just a disabled client in need of support. This makes people with a learning disability more able, more whole, more settled, just by sharing their lives with people they know well and who know them well. We are all unique individuals, each of us important, we like and need each other, we learn how the other feels and communicates, just by living together, over time.
… is living with friends and like family. We say this knowing that we never replace the residents’ parents and relatives, who are invited to be part in their and our lives in various ways. Families and parents are glad to know their relatives are not alone and that they also know the people who take care of their sons or daughters well.
… we recognize how unique and individual we all are, and we understand that nobody is an island onto themself: we are human after all, people who need people, we are interdependent. We have conversations about people’s wishes and aspirations that feed into the personal development plans for the individuals we support.
… is sharing our meals together. For starters (no pun intended) it is more economical to cook one meal for all rather than everyone warming up their own food in their own little apartments with their own microwave. We prepare delicious food from fresh produce every day. Plenty of fruit and veg, locally sourced dairy and meat products, organically grown, dedicating a little more time to eat … come to Botton! Everyone has a choice, and it’s so much nicer together.
… is coming home after a day’s work and someone who knows you will be there and take an interest, and the child may greet you with excitement. Take some time out, have a rest, in your room, listen to music or watch a film. Someone would notice if it’s not your best day and take an interest, someone to talk to, to cheer you up. No money can buy this. Go and meet friends in the village, take part in the many activities on offer. Our lives are real and so much richer together.
… we are inspired and motivated by shared values of service and charity. When co-workers come to live in Botton to share their lives and serve others in need, most commit to this in line with principles that are Christian and anthroposophical. There are some routines like the festivals or that most houses say grace at the table. We welcome people from all faiths and people can, if they want to, attend services in the church in the village whilst others go to church services elsewhere.
… is so much richer together. We laugh a lot, we tell or read stories or poetry, talk about our thoughts and daily events. We have a varied cultural life in Botton with the festivals, song and dance, plays and Eurhythmy, our own or visiting bands, musicians and music festivals, and much more.
… we care for the land and animals. We are also a farming community that values the land with a commitment to our animals, fields and gardens. We appreciate and take care of the land that used to belong to the Macmillan family, and where we have now grown our roots. The farmers also teach the learning disabled villagers and work with enthusiastic volunteers from all over the world. We work together and we are all proud of what we do and produce!
… is living in an open and a safe place. We welcome visitors from all walks of life, from nearby and all over the world, the young volunteers that live in the homes as well, our relatives and friends, workmen and support workers, advocates, assessors and social workers, doctors, nurses and carers. Whilst Botton may seem tucked away in the Upper Esk Valley, our community and homes are visible to and visited by a larger number and variety of people than most other institutions and housing providers. We demonstrate our high standards of support by engaging in the necessary risk-assessments and safeguarding procedures, and in doing so we achieve all the outcomes of the Care Quality Commission.
For our way of life and work we have won the Deputy Prime Minister’s Award for Sustainable Communities in 2005, the year of our 50th Birthday. Commenting on Botton’s ethos of sustainability and mutual respect the judges stated that "Botton offers both lessons and inspirations to the endeavour to create sustainable communities. Botton Village has demonstrated a long track record of working to realise the potential of all residents”.