When Lydia and Aidan packed their belongings and moved with their young daughter to Botton Village last year, they left behind everything that went with living and working in London – including their payslips. In making that choice, they followed in the footsteps of many others for whom Camphill has never been a job with a wage attached, but a shared and joyous way of life. For them it simply felt the right thing to do.
An inspiring challenge
‘To live and work with people with learning disabilities, and volunteer yourself unconditionally – on the face of it, it seems very challenging’, says Aidan. ‘But for me that is one of the most inspiring aspects of Camphill. ‘I think that because it’s an inherently brave thing to do, to give up your security, it creates a natural sense of trust with your fellow co-workers. Everyone has made the same choice and commitment. ‘People are just more trusting and open. Everybody has more time for each other. There is more of everything – except money.
‘It just feels a very human way to live. When you begin to experience it, you can even start to think it’s possibly the only way to live.’
Supporting each other
While Aidan has been getting to grips with being part of Botton’s forestry team, Lydia has been making the transition from life as a busy mum and teacher to her new role as a Camphill ‘housemother’. She’s responsible for an extended family-style household which includes four adults with special needs. ‘For me, some of the things about running such a large household have been natural. And everyone has been supportive,’ she says. ‘But actually, the residents themselves have been the biggest help. They know the rhythm of the days, the weeks and the year.’
She and Aidan have also had training to support them in caring for people with disabilities, and in the Camphill approach. ‘We first visited Botton last Easter, and it was so beautiful’, says Lydia. ‘I’m really looking forward to celebrating our first Easter here, with all that it involves. That, and the weather improving!’