Cherry Orchards Community

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Cherry Orchards Community's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Cherry Orchards Community is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
One of the tranquil corners of
our community
Part of the farm and garden
at Cherry Orchards
Based within Bristol’s city limits, Cherry Orchards spreads
across 19 acres of farm and garden, rich in beauty and
biodiversity. It is part of the Camphill Movement, which
has been active in Great Britain for 70 years in the fields
of education and adult care for individuals with learning
disabilities. It has been applying therapeutic community
methods to recovery and rehabilitation for over 20 years, with
particular reference to individuals whose lives have stalled
because of mental health difficulties. Valerie Sands tells
Parliamentary Review
about Cherry Orchards’ diverse offering
and their variety of therapeutic techniques.
It is our deep conviction, born out of decades of action research, that with “good
enough” support and conditions, anyone’s health will improve, no matter how
severe or intractable their problems appear. What might these conditions look
like? Firstly, a deep understanding of the intricacies of each individual’s health
and wellbeing is essential; the main characteristic of good health is the ability
to develop and grow without being constrained by illness. Secondly, it is vital to
consistently strive to provide those conditions in which this can happen.
We are a therapeutic community, and our grounds include a registered care home,
a small farm and a large fruit and vegetable garden which provides an organic diet,
high in home-grown produce. We provide opportunities to engage in all aspects
of therapeutic horticulture from house plants and herbs to the arrangement of
flowers. We offer a wide range of arts including painting, drawing, sculpture,
»Registered Manager:
»Founded in 1975 as a
registered company with
charitable status
»Based in Bristol
»Services: Therapeutic
»No. of staff members: 10
Cherry Orchards
drama, music, a homemade puppet
theatre and a wide variety of craft
activities. We also offer a range of
individual therapies. It is our belief
that residents who are treated with
respect and dignity will move towards
improved health and wellbeing.
Similarly, well-supported co-workers
with regular supervision and training
will perform at their best.
We begin by supporting everyone’s
optimal physical health, by
incorporating a balanced diet, exercise,
good quality sleep and an ordered
lifestyle into their daily routine.
Nurturing the right
It is perhaps more important, albeit
more challenging, to provide an
emotionally intelligent atmosphere in
which honesty and self-responsibility
can flourish. The first casualty of
mental health issues is trust, both in
oneself as well as in others. Rebuilding
trust is the first endeavour we
undertake with those who approach
us. Counter-intuitive as it may seem,
we promise only one thing to our
applicants: it will be hard to change,
but we will be there to support you on
your journey.
We are very open about how
painstaking it is to rebuild trust and to
begin to take hold of a life that may
have felt out of control for years. We
encourage plain speaking about how
deep the issues really are, and this
invitation is always met with relief. It
is our conviction that each individual
is their own expert, and if judgment
is held back, they guide our work. At
times, it is possible to find connections
through the relief that dark humour
can offer.
People in pain and confusion need
honesty to know that there are no
quick fixes if a problem is decades old.
They need to know that we will stay
with them, even and perhaps especially
when we do not have all the answers.
We will tolerate, for their sake, the
challenge of helplessness. It sounds
simple, but “being there” is what we
do well.
Fostering spirituality
Our community also has a spiritual
dimension. We offer both residents
and co-workers a range of practices
that can help to contain feelings of
anxiety, isolation and extreme distress.
The community has a grounded
Christian outlook, and celebrating
yearly festivals and holidays are high
points for us all to come together in a
different manner than in our day-to-
day lives. Regular relaxation sessions,
as well as ecumenical and inclusive
moments to reflect and explore
deeper life questions, are also offered.
Additionally, we light a peace lantern
every week, which has been shining
now for 13years.
Part of the Cherry
Orchards flower garden
We are very
open about
painstaking it
is to rebuild
trust and to
begin to take
hold of a life
that may have
felt out of
control for
Highlighting best practice
Health is, above all, the possibility to
rise above challenges and limitations,
to negotiate crises so that momentum
arises for the future. This means that
another very valuable contribution we
can make is to allow people to leave in
a celebratory way when they are ready
to move on. We want them to feel joy
and anticipation instead of fear for the
adventure of life.
Initially, on joining the community,
residents’ work involves establishing
rhythm and building trust, managing
symptoms and exploring new options
for action. The next phase is about
making better or different mistakes,
rather than hoping to make none at
all. This enables learning and increases
the capacity to embrace the challenge
of choice. We have often found that
after about nine months there is a
crisis which is not about being ill, but
about the fear of getting better. Here
too the consistency and the grounded
routine of the community supports
people to have trust in life itself, and
find ways to create a life in which they
are able to maintain their health.
Cultivating a brighter future
As we support both residents and
co-workers to be active in healthy
development, the whole community
must continue to develop. We
are currently engaged in a major
reappraisal of how we can meet the
growing and changing needs that
society faces. We are responding
by offering a wider and more
diverse range of activities. As well as
continuing to provide high-quality
residential and day care, we are
devoting beds to “respite”.
This means that individuals can
access regular and planned support,
preventing expensive and distressing
relapses, and securing better outcomes
for those trying to live independently.
It also provides diverse streams of
income, improving our financial
sustainability. Sessional activities also
allow recipients of social prescribing
and the Personal Independence
Payment to access our services.
Our modest achievements live on in
the lives we may have touched, and
our ethos can be expressed succinctly
in the verse below:
The healthy social life is found
When in the mirror of each
human soul
The whole community finds its
And when in the community
The virtue and strength of each
individual is effective.“
Rudolf Steiner
We support
both residents
and co-
workers to be
active in
“Only the help from individual to
individual, the encounter of Ego
with Ego, the becoming aware
of the other one’s individuality
without enquiring into their
creed or political affiliation,
but simply the meeting I to I,
creates that Social Therapy,
which counters in a healing
way the threat to our innermost
Dr Karl Koenig
Our community-
nurtured garden

This article was sponsored by Cherry Orchards Community. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister