What is Camphill?
Camphill Communities of Ireland is part of an international movement working with people with intellectual disabilities and other kinds of special needs.
In Camphill our residents share their home, spiritual and working lives with those who are motivated to meet others as individuals needing support and recognition for what they are, and not as carer and cared for in the conventional sense. Most of the people providing support to those with disabilities are volunteers, coming locally or from abroad.
Camphill is a way of life, where each person according to ability contributes what they can towards the well-being of the other.
Pioneered by war refugees in Scotland almost 70 years ago, Camphill today numbers over 100 communities in 20 countries. In the Republic of Ireland, 18 communities of varying sizes and settings are home to around 500 people, plus a number of day attendees.
Each person with a disability supported by Camphill has different needs. Camphill has responded by establishing centres that cater to those needs and by constantly adapting itself to meet changes in those needs.
At the core of the community is the recognition of the dignity of people with mental disabilities, giving less importance to the material equivalent of the work that is done by those who care for them as part of the giving and sharing in communal life.
In Camphill, we believe that mutual support and respect for each other create a healthy environment for healing and development.
We offer homes for children, young people, and adults with intellectual disabilities and other special needs - to live, learn, and work with others in energetic reciprocal relationships.
Everyone's contribution is valued and individuality is recognised. We acknowledge every person's right to equality and self-determination, and encourage participation in decision-making in work, social, cultural, spiritual, and home life.
The different communities in Camphill include:
- Schools for children in need of special care;
- Colleges and training centres providing further education and training;
- Mutual help communities for adults with varying degrees of intellectual disability and other kinds of special needs;
- Working villages for adults;
- Enterprise projects with employment opportunities for residents from the communities and day attendees; and
- Independent, supported accommodation.
We Learn from Each Other
We give of ourselves and take from the other, in a constant gesture of mutuality that allows us to flourish and grow with one another every day, through the seasons, in rhythm with the ebb and flow of life.
Whatever we do in community, as individuals and as a group, our residents and volunteer co-workers weave a pattern of reciprocal relationships wherein our deeds find their corresponding echoes in the actions of the other.
We Have 18 Special Needs Communities
In the Republic of Ireland we have 18 communities with around 500 people that are mostly land-based, where we endeavour to create places that promote healing and growth in and around nature.
Care for the land is a central part of our work. Our communities practice bio-dynamic agriculture, offering great opportunities for our people to work with organic farming and gardening methods.
Some of our communities are located in urban places, where we run shops and cafes that sell our farm or garden produce, crafts, and baked goods.
Having a Spiritual Life is Essential
Honouring the natural kingdom and spiritual world that nurture and sustain us is an essential component of Camphill life. We uphold Christian values in our Sunday services and Bible evenings. We are very much conscious of the seasons of the year and celebrate their festivals in various ways, through plays or harvest offerings, music or dancing in the halls, or just through a few moments of prayer and silence.
We Work as Volunteers
We value our work differently. Most of our co-workers are volunteers, and don't get paid according to the amount of work we do, but according to our individual needs. Some of us have families, and they form part of our community. Young co-workers usually come for a year of practical experience and then they leave to take up further studies. See Volunteering inCamphill.
Life-sharing is our Way of Life
We meet each other as individuals and form a community working together in the households and workshops, whether it is in the bakery, pottery or weaving shop, or in the farm or garden. By helping each other fulfil a task, we enrich ourselves and empower the other to develop further in their own special way.
Through our daily work we follow a rhythm of awaking to life and carrying out what needs to be done in the course of the day. And in the evening when we go back to our houses, we settle back to reflect on our deeds and prepare for the next day's challenges.
This website provides more information about the Camphill Communities in Ireland for anyone interested in learning more about our work - for prospective volunteers from abroad, local volunteers, students taking a gap year, or for those who have a relative with special needs.