Article by Peter Bateson, In Camphill since 1975, Foundation Trustee since 2008 and Development Coordinator 2011-17
Late last year the Foundation trustees held their autumn meeting at Corbenic Camphill Community, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland, in one of the most stunningly beautiful locations of any Camphill place in the world, on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. By UK standards, where distances are comparatively small, the place seems remote at first but this is an illusion quickly dispelled. The community has very strong links and constant interaction with the life of the locality, exemplified in recent years by the lively shop and café right in the centre of the busy town of Dunkeld and the on-site Sculpture and Poetry Path which is open to the public and becoming a widely known regional attraction. See http://www.corbeniccamphill.co.uk for more information about this thriving and innovative community. There is also a very interesting and engaging video of Corbenic (amongst other ventures) on the Foundation website http://www.camphillfoundation.net.
Camphill Foundation was founded in 1984 as the Thomas Weihs Trust, in honor of one of the much loved and respected founders of Camphill who had died the previous year (the name was changed in 1985). It was his wish to support new and ground-breaking initiatives in Camphill and he and his wife Anke always had a far-reaching vision for what Camphill’s development could encompass. In fact, Corbenic was one of a number of ventures inspired and pioneered by them during what could be called the boom-era of rapid expansion in Camphill during the seventies and eighties.
The World Wide Weave Exhibition project which was created to celebrate 75 years of Camphill in 2015 was conceived the year before during the Foundation’s 30 year jubilee. This was experienced by many to be the most creative and stimulating initiative carried out in the name of Camphill for quite some time. The scope and breath of the exercise was all encompassing which involved many of the villagers, co-workers, staff, friends and parents alike. Not only was it a great spectacle and platform to display the work of their communities to the general public and friends but it was wonderful for everyone within the communities to be united and proud of their work and be able to express what they stand for. It was very evident that there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst the members of the communities.
The exposure that the exhibition gave Camphill in the different neighborhoods of the UK and Ireland and also in Switzerland, Canada, USA, Norway and Finland, was tremendous, through the various media channels and social media and the excellent venues. It engaged so many people in a discussion around Camphill. A real sense of achievement was evident with many of the villagers and co-workers and on the other hand astonishment from visitors at the quality of work produced from the communities all over the world.
From the beginning and right up until the present day the composition of the Foundation’s board of trustees has consisted almost entirely of a partnership between Camphill parents and long-term Camphill co-workers in roughly 50:50 proportion. This has been a very strong feature and characterization which shows itself in a particularly warm dedication to the tasks of the Foundation, which is a charity registered in Scotland. This is all the more remarkable in that a number of faithful and long-serving parent trustees have sons or daughters who were resident in Camphill for only a relatively short period, but whose unwavering love and support for Camphill has continued undiminished for years, even decades, after! Worthy of special gratitude in this respect are John and Finella Spens (he a founder trustee, legal advisor and author of the Foundation’s Memorandum, only recently resigned as a trustee) whose daughter was in Camphill a long time ago, and Sandra Armstrong and husband Alan, who have continued to be great friends and supporters of Camphill through William Morris, Templehill, St. Alban’s, ‘Families and Friends’ and Camphill Foundation since their son was in Camphill many years ago.
Rob van Duin, a long-serving trustee, passed away recently at a relatively young age and is sorely missed. Others who have played an important role and had the Foundation close to their hearts are Georg Schad, Michael Luxford, Mike Hailey, John Durham, Ann Harris and Christof König. David Cloughley, who retired as a trustee in 2015 and whose daughter lives in Mourne Grange, was a tremendous strength for many years through his professional experience and expertise in banking and finance, and a stalwart champion of Camphill.
Rainer Reinardy is the longest serving trustee/director, since the early years. The current chairman is Simon Beckett and other trustees are Sandra Armstrong (her son formerly in William Morris and Templehill), Sally McCorquodale (her son In Corbenic), Helen Cherry (with two sons in Loch Arthur), Nicola Swaffield (her son formerly in The Mount and William Morris) and Gillian Brand and Peter Bateson, both long-term Camphillers.
Camphill Foundation funds an ever-changing variety of projects which enhance and enrich the lives of vulnerable people in need of extra care and support. This is our primary objective. Nowadays, independence and freedom of choice are regarded as the main aim and they are fine ideals, but they can only be achieved with the right level and type of support, both financial and personal. The Foundation offers financial support which enables new initiatives to start and helps to create or improve facilities and vital opportunities for creative and fulfilling work. It also supports developments in the social, cultural and therapeutic life of communities. It often provides that extra bit of help for enhancing the quality of life where regular funding fails to reach. True quality of life means combining individual choice and fulfillment with social belonging and responsibility. That’s what we aim to promote.
Online donations of any amount can easily be made on the website but most of the Foundation’s income is in the form of legacies. When people donate to a charity they want to know that the money is being well spent. All donations to the Foundation, large or small, can help to support more than a single project. Most of the funding provided is in the form of loans and when the money is repaid it becomes available to help with another project, then another, and so on. The Foundation works with all the member communities of the Camphill Association UK & Ireland so is the ideal place for those who wish to leave something to Camphill in general rather than to a particular community or group of beneficiaries.
The number and variety of projects supported by the Foundation during its 33-year lifetime has been enormous, ranging from seed funding to help get initiatives started, relatively small amounts needed for very specific purposes, and very substantial loans for major building and other forms of development. The beauty of what the Foundation can provide lies particularly in its very low interest rate (usually 1% above Bank of England base rate), flexibility of repayment options and its ability to provide loans without needing to demand security, which in this day and age is very rare indeed! In addition to loans, Camphill or Camphill-related projects can apply for grants of up to £20,000.
Some of the projects under discussion at the trustees’ meeting in Corbenic were as follows. Clanabogan in Northern Ireland has a social farming project which is a two-phase capital build with the intention to enable the sustainability of social farming in the community. They were looking for a grant towards phase one – a hay drier and storage barn. Tiphereth in Edinburgh requested a grant to support the completion of the Hoyland Hill House project which is an extension of their current operations developing integrated community living. The Alliance for Camphill has three areas where funding would be helpful to them: research, communication and campaigning. Simeon Care for the Elderly in Aberdeen is working towards creating a co-housing project on the site of Caranoc and Whithorn houses and is planning to convert a neighboring house to provide accommodation for carers. The newly-formed Esk Valley Camphill Community in North Yorkshire, England, needed support with both website design and the purchase of a new people carrier. Duffcarrig, Ireland, is currently receiving assistance with loan repayment issues. The Mount Community at Wadhurst, East Sussex, England, has requested help with the Pond House renovation project which will provide co-housing for six residents. This project is a completely new direction for a long-established and very successful residential community college which is branching out into provision for adults living and working together and integrated with the wider community. It has the strong support of The Mount trustees and East Sussex council.
Although the Foundation deals primarily with financial issues and support, in practice the whole ethos of the charity goes much deeper and encompasses an all-embracing respect and love for the ideals and essentials of the Camphill Movement. One aspect of keeping this alive is the fact that meetings of the board constantly move round from community to community, throughout the UK and Ireland, and we always make a real effort to see the place and to meet the people wherever we are being hosted. After the meeting in Corbenic, the next two venues are Esk Valley Camphill Community and Tiphereth Camphill Edinburgh.