Mark and Ben live alongside one another at Rainbow House, L’Arche Kent. Mark has a learning disability, and has been living at Rainbow House since February 2016. He has a brother who lives in Bournemouth and a sister who lives in Highbury, and he enjoys family trips to their chalet in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey. Ben is from Essex, and had been at L’Arche Kent for nine months at the time of interview. He joined L’Arche after seeking an opportunity to do something more meaningful. Chris Asprey spoke to them via Zoom in April 2020, discussing what brought them both to L’Arche and how the UK lockdown has impacted their lives.  

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Ben: “You were your whole life in London, weren’t you Mark? Born and raised.” 

Mark: “Born and raised. I was in Belsize Park 

Ben: “I’ve been here nine months. From Essex. Not too far to move from me, coming down to Kent. 

Chris: “What brought you to L’Arche, Ben?” 

Ben: “Oh, erm – “  

Mark: “Chris is saying to you what brought you to L’Arche. You should know about that, what brought you to L’Arche. You have to speak otherwise no one will speak to you – we won’t know what you’re on about. So explain to Chris why did you come to L’Arche.” 

(All laugh) 

Ben: “Yeah, I know. I have to come up with a good answer. I graduated in 2017 from University, and had like an interregnum period of going from job to job – Argos, you know, that kind of stuff – living without a purpose. So when I found out about L’Arche, I applied and I was here within a month. So I snatched at the opportunity to do something a bit more … meaningful.” 

Chris: “And has it been more purposeful?” 

Ben: “Yeah definitely, more than I could ever have imagined. But at the same time, I don’t think about that at all. It’s just part of normal life every day. I forget to reflect on how different my life was, say, a year ago. If you’d have said to me I’d have been living in this set up, in this house, living with people from across the world, and people of all ages … a year ago, I was working in the Argos stockroom, moving boxes from shelf to shelf off a lorry, trapped in dark warehouse with no windows and no light. And now my life’s full of light.” 

Mark and Ben

Chris: “What first brought you to L’Arche, Mark?” 

Mark: “I thought it might be a nice change, a bit different to come, to see what you think of it. When you first come, anywhere new feels strange. Anyway, once the virus is over, I’ll be going down to Sheerness on my holidays, Chris.”  

Ben:“It’s a nice [house]. Your dad bought it after winning money on dog racing, didn’t he Mark? When it’s in season, Mark goes there, maybe once a month or every couple of months, with the family.”  

Chris: “What do you like about living in Rainbow?” 

Mark: “It’s a nice house, nice people.” 

Ben: “And when we’re not in lockdown, what kind of things do you get up to during the week?” 

Mark: “Different things, yeah. The Glebe, I like candle-making. It’s all stopped because of the virus.” 

Chris: “How do you feel about that?” 

Mark: “I wish it was still happening.” 

Chris: “And are you worried about the virus, about getting ill?” 

Mark: “Am I worried about getting ill?” 

Ben: “I don’t think you need to worry that much, we’re taking precautions, aren’t we?” 

Mark: “We’re taking precautions, yeah.” 

Ben: “We’re very safe.” 

Mark: “Very safe, yeah.” 

Ben: “Doing lots of handwashing.” 

Mark: “Lots of handwashing, yeah.” 

Chris: “Is life boring?” 

Mark: “I’ve been watching lots of telly, a lot of the news.” 

Ben: “At the very start of the lockdown, I think it allowed us to start doing some stuff we wish we could have done. We dug up some of the soil in the garden, planted potatoes and carrots. With the pitchfork. Tomatoes, all sorts of fruits and veg, planted some wildflowers. That was week one – when we had tons of motivation to become self-sufficient. And then mainly, we just try to be outside as much as possible –“ 

Mark: “We try to be outside as much as possible” 

Ben: “And we’ve been using Zoom, haven’t we Mark?” 

Mark: “We’ve been watching, Zoom, Chris, the activities on Zoom.” 
 

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