When the Tenant Participation Practitioners’ Network (TPPN) first heard about the fantastic work going on at Mourne Grange from their Craigowen Housing Association representative, the group decided a site visit was in order to see for themselves.
Empowering Communities organised for one of the regular meetings of the TPPN to take place at Camphill Mourne Grange in Kilkeel so that we could take a tour of the community and learn a bit more from Manager Lizzie Dixon. We were extra lucky to be visiting the village on a gorgeous sunny day just as the orchards were being harvested to really appreciate the beautiful surroundings.
Camphill Community Mourne Grange provides sector-leading care services for people with learning disabilities and other support needs. Their aim is to provide a mutually supportive and purposeful community life for everyone who lives there.
Lizzie showed our group around the wonderfully kept community situated at the foot of the Mourne Mountains just outside of Kilkeel. We got to meet several villagers of the community and glimpse a bit of their daily lives, working together in the kitchen, the bakery and the woodworking shop where villagers were busy making crafts that are sold in their shop and at craft fairs.
The shared houses in Mourne Grange vary in size and make-up, ranging in number from three to six villagers, who live together with co-workers and their families in a life-sharing environment. Mourne Grange creates a warm, cosy atmosphere and provides a safe and secure home for the villagers.
Lizzie talked about how the community life in Mourne Grange is built on relationships. “We strive to develop meaningful, equal relationships, regardless of a person’s level of ability. Everyone benefits from the reciprocal relationships in communities, and great value is placed on connections and friendships. The focus is on a holistic approach to community life.”
There is plenty of social and cultural life at Mourne Grange. “We get together to make music, perform plays and celebrate a range of festivals. Celebrating festivals helps us to mark the passing of the year and creates a rhythm and stability in our lives. We support people to express themselves creatively through crafts, music and drama. These activities are fun, but also help people to develop new skills and confidence.”
In addition to social and cultural opportunities, the village also provides support through therapy. Within Mourne Grange there is a purpose-built health and therapy centre, Helios. There are fully equipped rooms for massage, therapeutic bath treatments and two large studios for art therapy, and eurythmy. Other members of the multi-disciplinary team also visit, for example, podiatry, GPs, community nurses, speech and language and occupational therapy.
After the picturesque walk around the grounds, the TPPN members were treated to an incredible homemade lunch, complete with two kinds of cake. All meetings should be like this!
Thank you for having us Camphill Mourne Grange Community!