Students from Class 11 have just spent a week at Botton, a Camphill community in North Yorkshire. They worked during the week alongside the residents undertaking tasks such as farming, baking, making yoghurt and cheese, working in the bio-dynamic seed bank and gardening. The students also had their lunches within the Botton homes with the residents and co-workers. This week is part of the Social Practical programme where students can experience a community where those with learning differences are enabled to live and work in a way where they are valued and can contribute to society. During the week the students began to look beyond the individuals so called ‘disabilities’ and meet the ‘person’ rather than their appearance or disability. As the week progressed many of the students began to realise that, rather than them ‘helping ‘the residents it was really a case of being open to learn how much the residents had to give/teach them. One student was lamenting her lack of physical strength in farming and a resident said ‘never put yourself down, we all have gifts that we can bring to each other’. Another student observed how important communities like Botton are as they enable people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities to work together for the benefit and enhancement of the community as a whole. This created several discussions about our own society and how those with disabilities are marginalised, stuck in care homes and how impoverished our communities are because of this. By the end of the week students were working alongside the co-workers and residents as a team delighting in the relationships that they had formed and the new understandings they had acquired. Many said that the commitment of the residents to their work inspired in them a much greater work ethic as every task was accorded real value and importance. This experience was a life changing one for many of the students and several are determined to return to Botton or other similar communities. We are so grateful to Botton for their openness in allowing this week to happen and our hearts are with them in the struggles they currently face to continue with their essential work on behalf of us all. Jo Reeves
Quote from Charlotte Roffey
"As the week went on many things changed. Acquaintances became friends, working became giving back to the community and perhaps most importantly my mind set was changed, I became more comfortable and felt more confident interacting and working with residents as well as co-workers and I started to see a side of myself which I never knew existed- this experience has left me open minded and has allowed me to be more self-assured in that I can adapt and approach new situations/circumstances with less fear".
Quote from Sasa Aksentijevic
"This trip has been an incredibly rewarding and beneficial experience to me and I feel that I have learnt many different skills about farming and working with people with disabilities. After this week I feel much more comfortable around people with special needs. There were times when the work was very intense but I kept going which I am very pleased I did, as it strengthened me and made me a more independent human being"
Quote from Rohan Stevenson
"By the end of the week I completely looked past any disabilities or differences in the people I worked with and this has helped me to be much more accepting of all people in my life and my usual environment. The work itself was physical and skilful (milking cows, making hay etc.) and for someone who is very much in my head I loved the connection I felt with nature and the animals that I was working with. It was wonderful to go to bed at night having done a hard day’s work and to be physically exhausted but emotionally fulfilled."
Quote from Laura Manning
One of the residents, a bubbly, friendly man with a great sense of humour, affectionately put his arm around my shoulder and said “I like you”. I asked him if he likes everyone, because he seemed to say that to quite a few of us. He replied that he likes “everybody”, and when I asked if there was nobody he found even a bit annoying, he repeated “I like everybody”. For me this just demonstrated the amazing attitude which seemed to prevail in Botton. I think that in our rather analytical, judgemental society this ability to see the best in people and like them for who they are is very important"
Quote from Fred Tweddle-Williams
"In evaluation of my time at Botton and my successes and failures in completing, my various goals, I would vote 100%, for both because I found it one of the most emotionally rewarding, and eye opening experiences of my life, eye opening due to the fact it deeply woke me up to the strength and courage shown by people with disabilities".