The interesting debate over the Camphill Community at Botton in Yorkshire is continuing in the Whitby gazette, with two articles. One is an expose of the expenses paid to co-workers and their families, and another looks at the issue from the point of view of the campaigners who object to the changes insisted upon by the Camphill Village Trust in order to comply with legislation.
The simple facts are that the Camphill Communities will have to change the arrangements for co-workers in order to continue to provide care for residents. Co-workers will become employees with contracts rather than volunteers with expenses, and as such will be more accountable. The campaigners claim the “unique community spirit”of Botton will be destroyed by the new arrangements, and that the residents currently live with “respect and equality” and that this cannot be found elsewhere.
This month’s Whitby Gazette article however, reveals some figures on the running of the charity;
“…the average cost to the charity for a co-worker at Botton, of which there are 34, stands at £32,000. The least amount is £15,000, while the highest paid co-worker receives over £60,000 each year.”
As several commenters on the article point out this is a considerable sum for a so-called volunteer, and many employees would be very happy to be on this kind of salary.
The majority of this money comes from the tax-payer, and according to the article, without donations and legacies the Community would run at a loss.
The way Camphill Communities operate has been largely under wraps and until very recently when a commenter here and the blogger at ineedmoretea spoke out about expenses, I was under the impression co-workers were unpaid with only occasional monies paid out for necessary expenses.
The documentary about Botton “The strangest village in Britain” – no longer available on youtube, showed the high standard of accommodation provided for houseparents and residents, and it did raise questions for me about the funding for these facilities.
The “equality” mentioned by the campaigners who wish to keep the status quo at Botton does not seem to extend to financial matters; the residents do unpaid work.
A couple of commenters on the article are curious about the fact that the charity pays for private education for the children of co-workers – why would this be when education is free, they ask? Well of course the families are anthroposophical and wish their children to be educated accordingly, at a Steiner school.
One commenter here told us that if the children are not achieving sufficiently at a Steiner school, the charity may pay for a few years at a private school to make up for the deficiencies.
The outcome of the shake-up at Camphill will be a loss of certain privileges for anthroposophical families, and no wonder they are angry. Their claims that residents will lose out do not seem to be born out in that good care is provided elsewhere by non-Steiner organisations, without the need for the controversial co-worker system.