Action 4 Botton

Why are they doing this?

1 June 2015

We have just exposed the catastrophic cost-explosion in the Camphill Village Trust under the management of CEO Mr John, which again raises the question that so many have asked so many times: "WHY are CVT doing this?"

This letter from a parent offers a glimpse behind the scenes and some context to the disastrous decisions of CVT in the recent years. Note the CEO's posturing to protect 'her who must be obeyed' (and certainly not questioned). Needless to say she refuses to answer a single question of the 80 year old father whose daughter has been living in Botton for many years. The CEO regards this passionate and questioning letter as bullying and hostile, he lacks any sympathy for a worried albeit angry parent. Suffice to say that the parent's letter seems harmless in comparison to the intimidating and threatening approaches from CVT and their solicitors to various agencies and media we know of. Read the letters at


The following is a comment by a relative of a Botton Villager, shining "A little light on the issue":

“My niece has been a Botton resident by choice for 26 years. I am writing to correct the impression given about Botton's struggle for survival. 

1) In 2011 'professional management' was introduced - CEO Huw John* and HR Director Frances Wright**. Since then there has been an unremitting attack on the Camphill traditions of family shared living and working, each to the best of their ability, between disabled beneficiaries and vocational volunteer co-worker houseparent carers. Over four years families have repeatedly questioned the necessity and reasoning behind the changes that CVT trustees and senior management are forcing through and as delivered in their 13th May 2014 ultimatum, volunteer co-workers must agree to become employees or be evicted from their communities. CVT's response has been to quote 'advice' they claim has been given by regulators and professional advisors, the latter has been withheld so we cannot comment on it. However the 'advice' given by regulators has proved to be false. The example in the article, the Charity Commission gave the trustees no alternative but to force employment on co-workers, I queried with the Commission. They replied "You have asked us to confirm whether or not the Commission has provided legal advice to CVT that volunteer co-workers are employees. I can confirm that we have not done so. The Commission does not give direct legal advice to charities. The question of whether the status of an individual is that of an employee or a co-worker is not a matter of charity law, and as such is not something that we can comment on." 

* Huw John was previously the CEO of Manchester Care until its financial collapse. A rescue plan approved by Manchester City Council cost them millions of pounds.

** Frances Wright, we are told by trustees, was an ex solicitor who "had previously worked as an independent consultant for CVT on fairly regular basis for some time.... When Huw John was appointed as the Chief Executive it was decided by the Board of Trustees to formally employ Frances Wright full time" 16 years ago she was involved in an attempt to introduce employment of co-workers and management into Botton and subsequently supported a strategy of ending shared living and vocational co-working. Companies House shows that she is a Director and Secretary of Leaning to Lead, a company used by CVT.

2) What consideration is CVT giving to the wishes of the Botton beneficiaries who have petitioned not only CVT but North Yorkshire County Council, their principle commissioning authority, and the Prime Minister? In reply to a question at a families' meeting in 2012, the then Chairman promised "CVT follows the procedures laid down in the Mental Capacity Act and have a best interests meeting before any decisions are taken on our resident's behalf." Requests for meetings by Botton families, many of whom have power of attorney or are appointees, to CVT and the NYCC have been ignored as have requests since the 2012 meeting for a meeting with trustees. The trustees have failed in their duty to protect the charity, their beneficiaries and families, to whom they have a prime duty of care, as set out in CVT's Code of Conduct. CVT, no longer members of the Association of Camphill Communities, have manipulated the membership and trustee recruitment reflecting something very unpleasant going on in the offices of CVT. The trustees are failing to recognise it. Whether they are sleepwalking or overcome with the stench remains to be seen, whatever the cause they are in breach of trust.

3) What is CVT's agenda? The only way to find out it seems is to take them to the High Court, at great cost and one which CVT are intent on ramping up. CVT have plundered the charity's finances. Families and supporters only have their own resources but there is vast support from other UK and International Camphill communities and supporters who are inspired by the wonderfully unique care that Botton has provided. The Action for Botton website shows the strength and resolve of families and supporters. If you are willing to make a donation it will be greatly appreciated in a very worthy cause. The Grange located close to Oaklands has similar problems - . If you ask my niece her views on what CVT are doing she will tell you more graphically. What I am doing is spreading a little light on the subject and helping her voice to be heard.” Max White


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