Camphill Lifesharing Youth Volunteer Project
Start date: Oct 1, 2015,
End date: Dec 31, 2016
Camphill communities are residential life-sharing centres for people of all levels of ability, including adults with learning disabilities and other special needs. CVT Gloucestershire is a UK charity comprised of three such communities. Our communities subsist in sustainable agriculture and the production of a variety of handcrafts, meanwhile providing support for work, learning, and daily living.
CVT Gloucestershire provides an incredible volunteer experience. All three of our communities—Grange Village, Oaklands Park, and Taurus Crafts—are situated in England’s outstandingly beautiful Forest of Dean. Together the Grange and Oaklands serve as live-in communities for more than sixty people with special needs, and include biodynamic, organic farms and gardens, wood workshops, bakery, pottery, basketry, and a fully functioning theatre and communal celebration space, while Taurus Crafts is a vibrant arts-and-crafts centre.
CVT Gloucestershire has a long, successful history of hosting international volunteers. In Camphill culture, volunteering is understood to be a rewarding way to make a positive impact on the lives of others, as well as being a wonderful opportunity to develop new skills and abilities. On a deeper level, the principle central to volunteering—that labour is offered free of a monetary evaluation of its worth—is understood to be inherently ennobling and an ideal of the human relationship to work.
Our “Camphill Lifesharing Youth Volunteer Project” is the first long-term EVS project hosted by CVT Gloucestershire. It is a one-year volunteering placement including eight volunteers from EU countries.
Volunteers with CVT Gloucestershire provide support to vulnerable adults while working alongside them in our gardens and various crafting workshops, at the same time developing knowledge and practical skills that serve them well for the rest of their lives. Volunteers also participate in artistic and cultural events, including concerts, theatre performances, and festival celebrations. They receive mentorship support to pursue their own inspirations and to create personal EVS projects.
The presence of young, international volunteers contributes immeasurably to the cultural enrichment of the people we support and our three communities, as well as helping the people we support realise their full potential in workshop activities. The volunteers, meanwhile, benefit from relating to our residents with special needs. Developing meaningful friendships with learning-disabled people opens the minds and hearts of young people to an understanding of true human worth. The volunteers are inspired by the wisdom and patience of those who have spent their lives managing or overcoming a variety of disabilities.
The volunteers benefit as well from the intercultural experience provided at CVT Gloucestershire. They undertake many cultural and leisure activities together with EVS volunteers at the nearby ASHA Centre. They form close, lasting friendships with one another and in the process, develop intercultural sensitivities and perspective on their own identities in relation to the EU.
Long-term benefits to young volunteers with our organisation are the development of language and interpersonal communication skills, perspective on the realities of running an active charity, and many other hands-on skills, all of which enhance their employability and expand their options after this project’s completion. Another objective of the project concerns the personal development, inner growth, self-worth, happiness, and physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of each participant. Mentorships are established as a means of supporting the growth of each individual.
Long-term benefits to CVT Gloucestershire communities include the continuation of workshop activity which is vulnerable due to lack of funding and would in fact, without volunteer involvement, be impossible. The communities will also benefit long-term from the continuation of the volunteer tradition that is an integral aspect of Camphill culture.
Participants in this project have the opportunity to forge important connections within the global context of the Camphill movement. Taking into consideration the participants’ response to their work here, to the people with special needs that we support, and each participant’s inclinations and inspirations, they will be supported to identify and pursue opportunities for further study in the context of formal and non-formal education, as well as biodynamic apprenticeships, crafting apprenticeships, short- or long-term volunteer placements, and positions of employment within the framework of Camphill villages in twenty-three countries in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. This stands to generate important wide-reaching, long-term benefits to the Camphill movement and Erasmus+ programs, which gain international visibility from participants continuing to represent them in subsequent placements abroad.
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