RESIDENTS and volunteers at an isolated moorland community for disabled people fear their way of life is under threat after radical changes for carers was announced.

Botton Village, based in Danby Dale in the North York Moors, was established 60 years ago and now has more than 280 people in its community.

They include at least 130 people with learning disabilities who live and work together making bread and cheese, toys and dolls, and farm the land with a biodynamic approach.

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The community is also home to volunteers who give their time to live alongside and support residents for free.

But they were told in May by Camphill Village Trust they would have to either accept paid employment or leave the community.

Campaigners who fear this will spell the end to the idyllic way of life to which all residents have become accustomed have set up Action for Botton.

Campaign manager James Fearnley said: “Two months ago, without notice, the charity delivered an ultimatum to the vocational co-workers - become employed or leave.

“At a stroke the trust has betrayed the very principles and values which created that atmosphere of harmonious human co-operation so many of us find at Botton Village.

“Action for Botton wants to make sure that the Botton model not only does not die but can continue to grow and thrive.”

But Huw John, chief executive of Camphill Village Trust, denied Botton was under threat.

He said: “Following recent tax advice, the charity is currently in the process of adapting the way it works with its co-workers.

“While we are now required to have employment contracts with our co-workers, our commitment will remain unaffected; none of our communities – including Botton - are under any threat of closure.

“The people we support are – and always must be - at the heart of every decision we take.”

Mr John added that that charity understood the concerns of Botton residents and campaigners – but that it would not mean the end of the charity or its communities.

He said: “Botton has always been a very special place and we are confident it will continue to be so.”

He said several similar communities are successfully operating with employed co-workers and they have continued to thrive – but that the changes needed to be made to provide a “secure financial future.”

Chairman of Action for Botton Neil Davidson said: “We believe the trust has abandoned the stated aims of the charity.

"The way in which co-workers - many of whom have given years to the ethos of Botton - have been made to feel is appalling."

For information or to join the group visit www.actionforbotton.org, email action@actionforbotton.org or call 01947-603456.