Families unite for CamphillType: Blogs
Topic: Camphill | Disability rights | Policy and legislation
Published on: 26th February 2021
One of the most important aspects of our work on the Transitions Bill has been the conversations that we have had with parents of young people who join a Camphill community.
Kate Monahan, a parent and a champion for other families through the network she co-founded ‘Because We Matter’, has played an instrumental role in this work. Kate has worked tirelessly to encourage MSPs to sign up to the Bill, and to remind families of the importance of submitting evidence during the consultation. She also provided an insight which is essential if we are to get transitions right for the thousands of families who are faced with an unsupported transitions process.
Clear need for Family Network emerges
A core part of the work of Camphill Scotland is to represent Camphill at a national level. To do this work to the best of our ability, we want to understand the experience of family members. After months of having a weekly call with individual families (mostly parents, but sometimes an adult child or sibling), it became clear that there was a need for a Family Network.
Families bring a wealth of experience
Chaired by Emma Walker and Kate Monahan, 27 families turned up to the first online Family Network gathering in January. The newest to Camphill was a parent whose son joined Camphill just four months ago; the longest association was a brother whose sibling has lived in a Camphill community for 70 years!
The wealth of experience – from struggles with local authority funding to finding a new routine once a family member is settled with Camphill – was humbling, motivating and clearly something to build on.
Family Network aims
The Family Network has two main functions:
- To provide peer support for families who need it
- To bring together families who would like to support the work that we do
During the second Family Network gathering many parents spoke of the challenges of navigating local authority funding. Difficulties with accessing day services cropped up repeatedly. The offers of help from families in addressing these problems has been heartwarming.
Voices of experience
Some family members want to share their stories and their love for what Camphill has brought to their family. This is a two-fold experience. For some it’s about being heard by their peers and reminiscing about pre-Covid times, for others they are opening up because they want us to celebrate these experiences with the wider world. As one person put it:
My brother doesn’t have a voice. Camphill Scotland needs to be that voice.
We’ve heard about people with learning disabilities who, after coming to Camphill, have found new talents in woodwork, baking, textiles and have gone on to sell their work to the public. Others have achieved things that they have always wanted to do – from setting up video clubs to competing in the Special Olympics. We’ll be sharing some of these stories over the coming weeks and months.
And that’s the joy of the Family Network. There are reasons to shed tears, both happy and sad, and although the gatherings may be online for now, the power of families united can really be felt.
The next Family Network gathering will be held online on Saturday 27th March, 10.30am. Contact us for joining instructions.
Emma Walker, Director of Camphill Scotland