More controversy at Botton

Botton Village, a Camphill Community in Yorkshire run according to the doctrine of Rudolf Steiner by the Camphill Village Trust (CVT) is the subject of another news story in the Northern echo.

Steiner teacher and volunteer co-worker Mark Barber was told to leave because of a safeguarding complaint.  The exact nature of the complaint has not been disclosed, and Mr Barber remains in his home and his post but must be supervised when in contact with residents.

He is one of the staff members who is unwilling to comply with new working conditions being implemented by the CVT in accordance with regulations. Previously co-workers were volunteers and were paid expenses. (See earlier post)


“As a separate matter, the charity is having to recognise that co-workers need to become employed.

“Attempts to reach an amicable solution with him about a future role and accommodation in the charity have been unsuccessful and he has been given two months’ notice to leave.

“Other co-workers have not been asked to leave. If co-workers decide they do not want an employed role the charity will not be able to continue to provide them with indefinite free accommodation and financial support.


Some staff at Botton have accused CVT of misusing safeguarding regulations, as is apparent in the comments on the article, but at least some residents’ families feel they should be able to raise safeguarding issues without fear of repercussions.




  1. Topaz

    I think that whatever the foundation of the safeguarding allegation one would not make it public – it’s not the sort of thing a normal professional person does – and one certainly would not raise it until the issue was fully resolved to all parties satisfaction.

    • Helen

      The whole controversy is very strange.
      For outsiders not familiar with anthroposophy and the way it is used in Steiner care homes it is difficult to comprehend why staff should not accept what is in the best interests of the residents, as the new measures the CVT are bringing in must surely be.
      Most “volunteers” with a family to maintain would be only too happy to be employed on a formal basis to do the job they have already been doing.
      Mr Barber mentioned that Botton was a “social experiment “, and this phrase was also used in the report in the Guardian in July
      “Camphill has now defined itself very narrowly as a place for looking after people with special needs. But it was a bigger project. It was a whole social experiment,”
      Yes, an experiment in anthroposophy. It worked in their eyes for many years, until the authorities began to take an interest and realised what was going on.

    • Helen

      Fascinating isn’t it?
      There’s a three-way battle going on here, between the safeguarding agencies who set the rules for looking after vulnerable adults, the CVT who operate the Camphill Communities and know they have to change to survive, and the co-workers who see the changes as the end of the anthroposophical way of life they have led for decades.
      What will be the outcome?

        • Helen

          Yes, I am sorry, Topaz, my comments may appear unsympathetic. I am afraid I have been so absolutely disgusted with the behaviour of people involved in all Steiner institutions for so long, nothing really surprises me any more.
          It must be devastating for the residents who are the victims in all this at Camphill to have to experience these disturbances in their lives. I have no idea how families will cope.
          Knowing what children have suffered at Steiner schools and what vulnerable adults are going through at Camphill I wonder how anyone can continue to support the Steiner movement. It is incomprehensible.

  2. Topaz

    Sorry Helen – I wasn’t implying that you were unsympathetic. More that you were raising very pertinent questions. I think that many vulnerable adults are having a terrible time emotionally and it seems there is little that can be done to protect them. Many families have chosen Camphill because quite frankly most of the alternatives out there are pretty shit anyway. Camphill does offer a certain quality of life -but at what price?

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