L’Arche this year is exploring the prospects within new areas of Scotland to launch a new community. We wish to do so in partnership with local volunteers, and with other professionals in Social Work and health services - as well as by drawing on our contacts with people with disabilities, and their networks of family and friends.
L’Arche is a grass-roots organisation that builds community networks from the ground up. Forty years old, the first community in Scotland was in Inverness, formed in response to the local needs expressed. It has grown since 1975 to include commissioned and self-directed support services to 56 people with learning disabilities, offering support to people to live at home, and also to access day and work-related activities.
Edinburgh is the second Scottish location of eleven in the UK. It has three shared houses, and a service supporting people in their own flat. One service began in 2014 in a new house adapted for people with additional physical needs.
A particular feature of L’Arche is that most of the shared houses are ones in which a proportion of the team of employed assistants also live in, alongside the tenants with disabilities. This reflects the core value L’Arche places on shared lives. The first L’Arche community in France in 1964 began in fact with a small group of people making a commitment to living and sharing life together. This ethos of mutuality was sustained as the charity quickly grew through offering further provision, resourced by teams that included members who lived locally as well as those who live alongside. The vision has spread to 40 countries to date.
L’Arche communities have adapted and evolved, in response to the changing hopes and needs of the people supported, for instance to live in flats, and to reflect the development of new ways of service commissioning and regulation.
When we discern how a third community may grow in Scotland, three things count. The keys that open new doors are
- a local desire among people with learning disabilities, and their networks of relatives and advocates, for what a L’Arche community may be able to offer
- is that desire is matched within Social Work, health and regulatory bodies – and third
- the interest shown by local people getting involved as volunteers, to strengthen the local awareness and provide skills for future project development and governance.
Could you be involved?
Contact Anthony Kramers via firstname.lastname@example.org