A feeling of peace is the first thing you notice at Ashfield House in Worcestershire, where six of the newest members of Berith and Camphill Partnership live.
While others in their community enjoy living in Stourbridge, the gentle countryside surrounding Ashfield provides Val, Victor, Nick, Anthony, Margaret and Alex with a reassuringly tranquil environment.
Together, they are helping to pioneer a new kind of Camphill household tailored to people who require a very high level of support.
As Sharon, who is in charge of the household, puts it, ‘here we learn from being part of our wider Camphill community – and our wider community learns from us. It is all about acceptance and respect.’
The most wonderful hello
While Ashfield House had to be completely modernised to make it safe for its residents, it is very much a home, from the piano in the lounge to the comfortable furniture and colourful pictures on the walls.
Val has been noticeably happier in herself since moving here from a residential care home last year. She now has a highly structured daily outine and lots of support to help her manage behaviours that emerge when she is stressed. The community’s beautiful organic garden, which is nearby, can also be a welcome retreat when she needs it.
Val adds pleasure to life at Ashfield through her evident happiness in seeing friends, being included in games, going swimming and maintaining a smart appearance.
‘She always greets me with ‘hello, don’t I look nice?’ says Sharon. ‘It’s the most wonderful hello.’