A TEACHER and volunteer carer with 20 years experience of working with vulnerable people has been threatened with eviction from his home after an ongoing dispute with charity bosses.
Mark Barber lives in Botton Village, a Camphill Village Trust community for adults with learning disabilities, with his two children and is also a co-worker who shares his home with village residents.
Mr Barber has been a class teacher at the Steiner Waldorf School at Botton for the last five years, which caters for children aged three to 14.
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He said he has been a strong voice against Camphill Village Trust’s proposed changes to the community, which would see volunteer, live-in co-workers replaced by paid, shift-working staff.
Two weeks ago Mr Barber said he was approached by management of the village who told him there was a safeguarding concern involving him.
He said: “They said I had to leave straight away – that I couldn’t even stay elsewhere on site, and that I had to take my children, aged eight and 13.
“I said the concern must be regarding something violent or of a serious nature, but they told me it was not.
“They just said it had been decided that I should leave – but wouldn’t tell me the nature of the safeguarding issue.”
But Mr Barber told trust managers he would not be leaving until he was told why and until receiving written confirmation of the eviction.
He is currently allowed to remain in his home, which he shares with four special needs residents, but must be supervised when with he is with them.
Mr Barber said: “I have been a strident voice against the charity’s plans to change the very essence of the village.
“My case is not isolated and I believe it is part of a systematic misuse of safeguarding.”
CVT chief executive Huw John said: “Safeguarding policies have not been ‘misused’ by CVT in any way.
“Mr Barber was suspended following a complaint that was raised as a safeguarding alert and the charity will now be investigating – but there is no reason to be concerned about his teaching or parenting activities.
“As a separate matter, the charity is having to recognise that co-workers need to become employed.
"Attempts to reach an amicable solution with him about a future role and accommodation in the charity have been unsuccessful and he has been given two months’ notice to leave.
“Other co-workers have not been asked to leave. If co-workers decide they do not want an employed role the charity will not be able to continue to provide them with indefinite free accommodation and financial support.
“To do so would be an irresponsible use of charitable funds.
“It remains our hope that co-workers will choose to engage with the necessary change process, resulting in them staying in Botton.”