Eviction notices have been served on co-workers who support learning disabled residents at Botton Village.
Camphill Village Trust (CVT), the charity that manages the 60-year-old community, want the volunteer live-in carers to either accept paid employment and agree to adaptations to accommodation arrangements or leave the village.
Co-worker Eddie Thornton, said: “These people have devoted their lives to Botton and to see them treated in such a callous way by the charity they set up to protect them fills me with sadness.
“I was an employee of CVT, but I resigned and became a volunteer when it was clear that there was no intention of reaching a compromise with the village.
“I stand with my learning disabled colleagues and say that we will not accept the destruction of this community.”
Since Botton Village was established in 1955, disabled residents have lived alongside unpaid carers in a shared community that has been heralded as the future of social care.
The ‘notices to quit’ arrived on Thursday in spite of a mass protest by campaign group Action for Botton at the offices of both CVT and North Yorkshire County Council last week.
Petitions opposing the proposed changes by CVT were handed over and residents at Botton have been left outraged that their concerns have been ignored. They now look set to oppose any efforts to remove the co-workers.
Ian Hatcher, a learning disabled Botton resident, said: “I think CVT need to act their age and not their shoe size.
“I think they’re just going to get a riot on their hands, that’s what all the villagers said.
“We’ll just stop CVT coming in the village with all our tractors.”
CVT revealed to the Whitby Gazette that HM Revenue and Customs have informed them that the Botton co-worker arrangements must end by March 31. Thus, as part of the necessary preparation for this change, they have contacted residents and their families, as well as co-workers, to let them know about their plans as next month’s deadline approaches.
A spokesman for the charity added: “In conjunction with North Yorkshire County Council, we will be undertaking reviews with all those with learning disabilities to ensure they are safe and supported.
“The reviews will take into account where people are living and who they want to live with.”
CVT say that many co-workers in Botton and at other Camphill communities have elected to become employees but that some at Botton have rejected this, along with a range of other options which have been offered.
The spokesman continued: “Co-workers currently live in houses owned by CVT as part of their role. As the co-worker role will no longer exist after 31st March, they will need to find somewhere else to live if they do not take up one of the alternative options on offer.”
Co-workers currently living with people with learning disabilities, and those with children, will continue to be allowed to live in Botton for the time being; but will no longer be classed as co-workers or be employed by the charity.
CVT say that they remain open to any constructive dialogue with co-workers who want to remain in Botton. They claim to have offered all co-workers the opportunity to become employees, or real volunteers, or to explore the options around a Shared Lives living arrangement.
The spokesman added: “Our primary concern, and that of North Yorkshire Country Council, is to ensure any changes to the support people with learning disabilities is done in the best way possible, whilst ensuring we meet the new requirements of both HM Revenue and Customs and the Charity Commission.”