Founded in 1981, Camphill Milton Keynes provides support and a meaningful working life for adults with a wide range of learning disabilities.
Our aim is to create a safe and stimulating environment, fully integrated into the surrounding community that allows individuals to develop in accordance with their own needs.
For a quick introduction to our charity, please download our Welcome to Camphill MK brochure.
National BBC Journalist Martha Kearney has joined Camphill MK as a patron in support of the plans to expand the Willen Park and Pennyland sites to offer even more support to people with disabilities.
Martha Kearney, is a celebrated journalist, broadcaster, and the current presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Her awards include Political Commentator of the Year (House Magazine), Radio Presenter of the Year (TRIC) and Best Individual Contribution to Radio (Voice of Listener and Viewer). Her literary prowess and love of storytelling have seen her on the judging panels of the Man Booker Prize and Orange Prize for Fiction, to name just a few.
Martha’s connection to the Camphill is a long-standing and heart felt one, as it was home to her brother-in-law for over 3-years. She is often on site with her husband and continues to welcome residents from the community to her home each year for a summer party.
The Willen site is the focus of Camphill Milton Keynes Communities. This is where most of the community’s activities are based including our office, the Café, our Chrysalis Theatre, the Shop and main garden and orchard.
Most community members live here, and this is where most meetings and social activities take place. There are five houses here: Sunwood/Willowwood, Margaret Powell, Whitethorn, Blackthorn and Appleyard. The houses form a horseshoe around a lawn, often where football, cricket, and celebrations of all kinds take place.
There are more houses close to the Willen village, in Sakura Drive, Downhead Park and Pennyland.
Our Pennyland site is the smaller of the two and was the first to be established in the mid 1980s by our Camphill pioneers. There are more workshops in a building called Michael’s Akyre, a walled garden which once grew vegetables, soft fruit and herbs but more recently is the site for new housing. The Tools for Self-Reliance MK project is located here with residents working on site each day to refurbish tools for disadvantaged communities. The three residential houses are called Oberlin, Soltane, and Kazantzakis.
Within our Willen location is The Chrysalis Theatre, a modern multi-function venue that serves as a theatre, concert hall and meeting place for Camphill MK and for the wider community of Milton Keynes.
It has become recognised as a prestigious receiving venue, not only in Milton Keynes but also beyond, with the famous names of Warwick Davis, Priscilla Presley, Barry Humphreys, Felix Dennis and Jonathan Dimbleby (BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions?). With a particular interested in innovative, high-quality productions, music and dance, we are able to provide the community with a wide perspective of performance, particularly if it has significance for those with learning disabilities.
The Camphill movement was founded in 1939 by Doctor Karl König. König came to Aberdeen and met with many of his former colleagues and friends who’d also fled Nazi-occupied countries during this time. They occupied an old estate called “Camphill” in Aberdeen, Scotland which became the first Camphill Community based on curative education.
He was a great believer in the abilities and spiritual/holistic welfare of children with disabilities and the idea that they have a potential that can be unlocked and developed. Central to this was using the arts to develop potential- Camphill communities are always alive with art and craft activity, drama and have a very specific aesthetic and architectural style. Koenig was also religious and a great believer in the spiritual potential of those living with disabilities, inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s work before him.
From the first community in Aberdeen, Camphills’ began to develop all across the World – at the time they were founded, built, maintained and run by co-workers who adopted Camphill as a way of life rather than a job. In retrospect, it was decades ahead of its time considering how to work alongside and with adults and children with learning disabilities instead of marginalising them.
Camphill MK is rather unique among Camphill Communities for its urban setting. Most of the early Camphill communities were built on farmland or country estates and usually quite remote. Camphill MK was an attempt to create a community within a more urban environment where residents could seek out outside work opportunities and have access to urban amenities.
Two of the people who were instrumental in founding the MK community were Morwenna Bucknall and Ann Harris. They both worked with König in the 50s and 60s and later went on to play significant roles in establishing and building the community here.
The parents’ group of the Camphill Village Trust was interested in creating such a community in the late 70s, which coincided with a chance meeting between a consultant in Aylesbury who went to see a talk by Thomas Weihs (one of the founders of the Camphill movement). That triggered discussions between the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (which existed before the council) and the Camphill movement.
Milton Keynes Development Corporation was incredibly forward-thinking in its planning of the City to include provisions for people with disabilities. They were highly committed to social development and pioneering these kinds of projects. Without that insightful planning, the Camphill Milton Keynes ‘project’ would not have been successful. In fact, Camphill was invited to Milton Keynes to play a part in the imagination of the wonderful ‘New Town’ from the beginning.
There were questions and doubt to see if the project would even be viable. Today we are hugely advantaged by our location and relationship to the City as CMKC was built on the idea that people with learning disabilities should be part of the wider community and not marginalised from it, which was still a pioneering idea at the time.
Camphill MK is run by a devoted team, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience and who are passionate about helping those within Camphill to grow and thrive.
Tim has over 25 years’ experience working in health and social care. For the last 10 years he has worked with Learning disabilities and Autism. Settings have varied from Local and Health Authority roles, National Charities and his own limited company. He led a Camphill College in East Sussex for around 3 years and has been CEO at Camphill Milton Keynes Communities since 2013.
Tim currently represents the voluntary sector in Milton Keynes at the Health and Wellbeing partnership board alongside senior leaders from the locality and is a representative for the AoCC, supporting Camphill settings across England and Wales in this role. “What drives and excites me are the relationships that we develop with our beneficiaries”.
Julia joined Camphill in 2007 leading the café workshop. Prior to that she undertook various roles in volunteering for her local community, supporting young children and their families. She worked for fifteen years in chef roles in a local restaurant while bringing up her children. She was a SEN support worker, staff member representative on the board of governors at the local school and Parochial Church Council. She completed qualifications in hotel and catering management, studied with the Open University and was a Chartered Institute of Environmental Health registered trainer. Under Julia’s direction the Camphill café’s reputation grew, her contribution leading to her promotion five years ago to manage the charity’s day opportunities provision.
Tom joined Camphill MK as Registered Manager in 2018. Tom started as a volunteer, later becoming a support worker following university and then progressing to senior management roles within supported living, dementia care and working as an inspector for the CQC.
Passionate about person-centred care, quality and innovation, Tom enjoys coordinating community events, working with staff to develop skills, and helping Camphill to flourish. It’s Tom’s belief that every individual has potential and that forward-thinking social care enables individuals to thrive and blossom. Tom has two daughters and enjoys writing, playing the keyboard and guitar, video gaming, football, running and table tennis.
Lucy joins us from the arts sector where she has spent the past 20-years supporting artists and artistic organisations in Milton Keynes. During her career she has secured c. £12m into the city to support the development of the creative industries and cultural sector. Most recently Lucy was Executive Director for The Stables and IF: Milton Keynes International Festival where she led on implementing their business plan, developing partnerships and securing funding.
As Head of Development, Lucy will lead on developing new relationships and the fundraising for a capital programme across the Camphill MK sites.
Sandhya joined Camphill MK in August 2023 with 33-years experience in wide spectrum of different industries. She has worked in broadcasting, manufacturing, healthcare, education and retail.
She has been married for 28-years with two daughters and loves cooking and cleaning!
Sandhya decided it was time to work in a place that actually makes a difference to people and so she chose Camphill MK.
Marija joined Camphill Milton Keynes as a live-in volunteer co-worker from 2002 -2003. Returning as an employee in 2009, first as a house co-ordinator and later progressing to the role of Training Manager.
Prior to joining CMK Marija was working as a journalist in Croatia. Marija has BS in Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Sciences (University of Zagreb), BS in Theology (University of Osijek, Croatia) and MSc in Anthropological Bioethics (University of Zagreb). Marija also studied Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regents College in London. She holds qualifications in Education and Training and Health and Social Care. Marija is currently studding Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching at Institute of Health Sciences.
Simon Joined Camphill in 2018 as Facilities Maintenance Manager. After leaving school Simon qualified in Carpentry while working in the building trade. Simon changed direction with his career and joined the Police Service, where he served for 13 years until 2014. He left to assist in the construction of a college as their Premises Manager, later as Estates Manager.
Qualifying in IOSH health & safety also taking up responsibilities in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. It was this that lead him to seek a career where he could work directly with people in their community giving the best facility for individuals to their full potential. Simon enjoys outdoor pursuits, including walking and rock climbing.
The Trustees of the Charity are also Directors of the Company: they are legally responsible for the running of CMKC Ltd. While they have delegated the management of CMKC Ltd to the Chief Executive, they determine strategic policy and maintain an overview of the management and affairs of the Community. They help and advise the Management Team whenever appropriate.
Geoff has recently retired after spending almost 20 years in the School of Business at the University of Leicester. He specialised in teaching Corporate Governance and Entrepreneurship, as well as researching financial technologies.
His sister was a long-term resident of Camphill MK, and she still regularly attends our workshops.
Geoff became a trustee in 2019 and became chair of trustees in 2021.
In 2008 Elaine became Camphill Milton Keynes first Ceo, she has been a trustee of another Camphill Community and was a representative for Camphill at the Association of Camphill Communities.
Elaine is a HR specialist but moved on to work in the care industry, in the private sector, charity sector and local authority. She has been the CEO of a hospice and is currently the head of Service for Central Bedfordshire Council’s in house care services.
Elaine has been involved in voluntary work most of her working life and is currently part of a mentoring programme to support young people as they leave care.
John retired as an employee of Milton Keynes Council in 2012 and now devotes his time to various voluntary activities. He has been a trustee and Honorary Secretary of the MK Rose Trust since its inception in 2011; and he is a trustee and Chair of Tools for Self Reliance - MK. He was a director of Methodist Guild Holidays Ltd for 9 years, and Chair of the Company for four years , following which he joined the Board of Camphill.
John was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2012 for services to young people and the community of Milton Keynes. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenants for Buckinghamshire in 2013.
Rukhsana has worked for the Open University for last 19 years. She is an elected member of the Universities Senate and also an active member in several different groups including the BAME network and the care and caring network. Rukhsana is a member of the Leadership group of Citizens:mk, she is an ambassador for Milton Keynes Islamic Arts Heritage and Culture and is involved in the running of a Community Radio station.
She’s also been involved in local projects such as the resettlement of Syrian Refugees working with Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes council and the Red Cross.
Jeremy spent most of his working life at the BBC, first in London (in Radio), and since 1978 as a Producer/Director of Social Science TV and radio programmes at the Open University Production Centre in MK. He has been a School Governor (including Chair) and was chair of his local union branch for some years.
Jeremy first became involved in CMKC in 2000 through his activity in local drama groups and helped to develop the Chrysalis as a public venue. He was a Trustee in 2008-09 and re-joined the Board in 2011: he now focuses on the management of buildings and other fixed assets.
Peter Howard has been a long-time resident of Milton Keynes. He originally joined the Milton Keynes Development Corporation as an architect, and more recently has been an architect in private practice with projects both in Milton Keynes and elsewhere.
Now retired, he maintains an interest in MK as a trustee of the Fred Roche Foundation.
Sue has worked in the Care Industry for the last 9 years, running a domiciliary care company in Milton Keynes and Buckingham. Through her work she gets involved with Community projects including running a dementia café, friendship lunches for the elderly and running events to raise funds for various charities including “BRING JOY FOUNDATION” that gifts grants to senior groups.
Sue has a son with learning difficulties who now lives independently in Milton Keynes. She was drawn to Camphill because of their ethos and professionalism and feeling that having experienced the complexity of the system as a parent she could help others.
Ian has over 30 years of experience working in the voluntary, community, and charity sector.
He is currently CEO of MK Community Foundation which is a grant making infrastructure organisation that also provides subsidised accommodation to the sector.
Ian is also a Governor of MK College and Board member of the Bletchley & Fenny Stratford Town Deal Board.
Elizabeth was CEO of Evidence Talks, creators and manufacturers of digital forensic technologies, before it was acquired by CCL Solutions Group in 2019.
Elizabeth also holds several non-executive roles in the security field including director for the Aerospace Defence and Security Industry, Chair of the security advisory Board at Cranfield University, Trustee for Women in International Security, Chair of the Anchor Partner and Strategy Group for the South Central Institute of Technology and ambassador for security for SEMLEP.