Work is considered an important part of residents’ lives; it helps them develop their full potential and sense of responsibility and dignity. Each household’s daily structure is very similar, and this ‘rhythm’ of the day is common to all Camphill communities, forming an important part of each resident’s life.
We have various workshops available, from arts & crafts, including weaving and ceramics, performing arts, media, horticulture, an artisan bakery and a vegetarian café open to the public.
The resident’s work is what helps our community thrive. Their artistic creations are sold at our café and fairs and displayed in exhibitions. Their performances are seen in our onsite Chrysalis Theatre. The food they grow and make is sold and eaten in the café, and the newsletter content they create helps keep our followers and supporters informed about the Camphill community.
Our workshops are open Monday to Friday, offering support on a paid placement basis for our residents and those living in the wider community for people with learning disabilities and autism.
The art & craft workshop aims to reduce stress and encourage relaxation of body and mind through art and craft and exercise the fine motor skills involved in art and craft activity. Residents can express themselves through the various arts and crafts mediums, make friends and get to know each other.
This workshop is for all abilities to enable them to learn new and develop their skills. Each person in the creative workshop is supported to create individual art and craft projects related to their interest and backgrounds. We also run fixed-term group project work where people can develop and learn new skills in a specific style. Our creators keep personal diaries and portfolios of their work.
Our weavery and textile workshop focuses on developing weaving skills on traditional manual looms, needlework, machine stitching, and spinning natural fibres, including flax that we grow onsite and felting. Some processes require following sequences and working to specific patterns, which helps develop cognitive and motor skills and gives a stimulating and rewarding experience.
We have recently opened a dedicated ceramic and printing workshop where people can design products using natural materials and glazes. In this area, we also explore ways of using natural dying techniques and indulge in slightly messier craft activities.
The craft workshops offer a range of crafting opportunities. These include needle felting, collage & papier mâché, natural dyeing, flower printing, clay work, marbling, mosaic making, jewellery making, block carving and puppets, mask & model making, to name but a few.
Our products are sold onsite and at external events and craft fairs. The workshop also creates greeting cards, gifts and art pieces for the community, public spaces and our homes.
Our artisan bakery is a workshop where people with learning disabilities learn how to bake fresh bread and confectionery products from mainly organic ingredients.
The bakery produces many types of loaves and bread for the whole community. Residents learn to bake, measure out the flour, use the weighing machine, and use the basic bread ingredients such as flour, yeast, liquids, sugars, fats, salt, eggs, and extras. They gain experience in kneading, using a food processor, testing the dough, shaping the bread, glazing, and using the oven.
Residents also learn bread-making problem solving, for example, what to do if the bread rises too much, if there’s no time to finish the bread, or if the bread doesn’t rise. Our bakery is not only about loaves: residents also prepare a variety of buns, croissants and sweet treats.
Our excellent bakers also offer real bread and sweet products daily to the broader community in Milton Keynes. We sell our bread in the café from 11.00 am and customers can also enjoy our fresh bread in the café with meals.
Our breads and other baked sweet treats are on sale in our café or for special orders by phoning us at 01908 308739.
You can view the current bread menu here!
Our Café is a workshop that provides food preparation, food safety and customer care training. There is an ongoing learning programme in the café in the form of Health and Safety Talk Topics. This is an opportunity to ensure everyone understands the safe methods required for working in this busy public-facing environment. We also offer work experience for people on employment pathways into hospitality. The vegetarian menu uses quality ingredients, incorporating products from our bakery and gardens into the house specials. We run a table service system so customers can relax and enjoy first-class customer service from our exceptional team. The café also provides catering for events held in the Chrysalis Theatre, which includes corporate days and celebrations. The workshop gives service users the unique opportunity to provide a service to the public.
The garden workshop allows our service users to learn how to plant, grow and care for the plants and harvest fruit and vegetables. We have a mature fruit orchard of soft fruit and fruit trees. Our polytunnels are productive for the majority of the year, where we grow soft green leaves, herbs and salad vegetables. This space is also used for propagating, pricking out and raising seedlings.
We are in the stages of developing a brand-new garden in our Round House Paddock. We welcome corporate volunteers to provide people power to help us achieve some more significant development projects. This includes building new beds, maintaining existing raised beds, and maintaining our edible forest and vegetation management.
The residents and staff are proud to have made an herb garden and compost containers from reclaimed materials. We are environmentally kind, following organic and biodynamic methods without chemicals. Many of our raised beds were created using the ‘lasagne’ method, using old cardboard and woodchips that may have ended up in landfills.
The work in our gardens varies, with many tasks ranging from weeding to planting, harvesting, and storing. The garden group also undertakes plant care and takes care of the green spaces across our site. Our produce is incorporated into the café and bakery products and enjoyed in our houses. We make jam from the soft fruit, and the apples grown are juiced and sold to support the workshop activity.
In our newsletter workshop, we are our community’s journalists, auditors and reporters. We help collate all the news and stories from the community into one publication. Our resident members work hard to include interesting, up-to-date, relevant, empowering articles and fun stuff.
Our resident photographer, Alex, professionally captures precious moments and celebrations. We cover community events and gatherings, important events outside Camphill, and Chrysalis Theatre.
The group participates in many different outreach projects, including advising The Parks Trust about accessibility issues in and around MK. We also explore our own projects and take time to relax when taking a little break from assignments. We like to challenge the community with games and competitions, and we make sure that we always win by sending our fiercest players.
Throughout the year, the workshop also offers the opportunity for service users to explore the local area with a focus on environment, cultural and inclusive subjects. The group calls themselves the ‘explorers’, and they research new routes for people with special mobility needs and test new and old services to understand how user-friendly they are.
Find out what is currently happening in the community by viewing our resident’s blog page.
In the Tech Lab the word “disability” is not in our dictionary and residents take on tasks according to their interests and abilities. Even if someone is only able to recognise the alphabet and a few numbers, with support, collaboration and persistence, an online presence and the benefits of modern technology can still be very much enjoyed. What is more fulfilling is to see the faces of our service users catching up with family from far flung corners of the world via Facebook and seeing them connect on LinkedIn and Yahoo Mail on a smart phone!
We really enjoy making digital birthday and thank you cards and catching up on the latest sporting events and weather whilst enjoying relaxing music or a funny video clip online. We support our café and other workshops to produce flyers, leaflets, signs and maps.
Online and electronic device safety is also important. Residents and staff take regular breaks and rest their eyes while working. Emails and other social media accounts all have necessary safety settings turned on to minimise the risk of online exploitation to help safeguard the group when using technology independently.
Performing arts is a great way to unite the community and help the residents express themselves.
We have four workshops based in our Chrysalis Theatre, offering a holistic approach for people with a variety of abilities, ranging from those who wish to engage and explore the social and therapeutic side of performing arts to those who want to write, stage manage, design and perform in our beautiful Chrysalis Theatre. Many of these performances are open to the public.
We run the groups over four different days, each with a different focus. These include physical and musical theatre, script writing, performing, creative writing, storytelling and music. Our backstage group helps to take care of safety within the building and provides hospitality services to people who rent the space. This group also studies stage makeup, lighting, prop design, costume repair and collating.
Tools for Self Reliance (TFSR) is a separate, national organisation.
Camphill MK residents and staff support TFSR in a tools refurbishing workshop with a good cause. Old tools donated by local people are mended and refurbished. These tools are then shipped to different organisations locally supporting refugees and other social care groups in Africa and elsewhere. In addition, the group takes on various upcycling projects, from push bike maintenance to woodwork and making some new things from old, preloved items. The group learns many new skills using hand tools and carpentry equipment.