SUPPORT for residents and workers at a North Yorkshire community for learning disabled adults is mounting as local churches and businesses chip in to give financial and emotional support.

Botton village, in Danby Dale, is facing major changes to the way it is run next week with volunteer co-workers having to either become paid members of staff or leave – despite them living as a family with residents.

Camphill Village Trust, which runs Botton, has said co-workers will not be made to leave the village until at least the end of May, but will no longer receive expenses from March 31.

Local campaigners have set up Botton Buddies, which invited members of the communities around Botton to show support for the volunteer carers who have chosen to live and work alongside Botton residents.

Botton Buddies have pledged to help co-workers financially and to send food parcels after the deadline of March 31 passes.

James Fearnley, a local entrepreneur who set up the scheme, said: “We are thrilled by the response to Botton Buddies which illustrates the phenomenal support at all levels from individuals to businesses.

“People are not prepared to see this unique village destroyed. Community members are getting calls from people supporting them emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

The scheme was launched at a public meeting in Danby on March 6 and matches each buddy with a Botton co-worker.

Naomi Miura, 37, has been a co-worker at Botton for four years and said she has already benefitted from the support of the buddies.

She said: “It is so nice to know that people outside of Botton are thinking about us and are behind us.

“At the moment we don’t really know what is going to happen – I haven’t thought about an alternative to being in Botton.

“Getting practical and emotional support from people outside of Botton means so much to us – it has made me feel braver.”

But CVT bosses have questioned the need for such a scheme and said at other CVT communities they had staff that live, work and socialise with people with learning difficulties – just as co-workers have done.

Huw John, chief executive of Camphill Village Trust, said: “The Camphill philosophy has always welcomed the involvement of local people in its communities.

"But we’re not convinced Botton Buddies are actually needed. Their focus is supporting co-workers who are, and will continue to be, provided with housing and food.

“It is only right that these people, who have chosen to cease their relationship with the charity, should pay their own council tax, gas and electricity, private medical care, private school fees and water bills.”

He added that the co-workers would not be left without food, or emergency transport and can remain in their homes until the end of May, and those with children until the end of July.

He said: “All the co-workers in Botton have been offered jobs, but a number have turned employment down. We don’t see why charitable funding, and tax payers' money, should fund this lifestyle choice.”