The International Camphill Dialogue took place in Aberdeen between 24 and 28 May, opening with a Civic Reception in Aberdeen Town House on the evening of 24 May. The Lord Provost of Aberdeen and Dame Anne Begg officially opened the international charity event and welcomed over 160 people from across the world.
People working and living in Camphill charities worldwide attended this conference to discuss key issues impacting on their charities and on the people they support.
This was followed by a series of events in and around Aberdeen up until 28 May, including workshops, study visits and live performances.
Holding the event in Aberdeen has a special significance. It marks a return to the early roots of the Camphill movement, which began in 1940 when the North East of Scotland offered sanctuary to a group of mainly Austrian Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazism. The Founder, Karl König, had made it his life’s task to create communities where the goodness of everyone could shine through in a mutually beneficial way.
The first of these communities was in Milltimber, where Camphill School Aberdeen was established with the help of prominent local business people. From here the movement has spread to more than 140 charities in 40 countries around the world, including Germany, America and South Africa.
Carnelian Hall, Camphill Estate, Milltimber
The charities, which support thousands of people with autism, learning disabilities and other support needs, are recognised internationally for the high quality of the service provided. In Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, the seven Camphill charities support over 500 people by providing child-minding services, schools, training centres, workplaces and care homes for the elderly.
At the Civic Reception, Dame Anne Begg highlighted the significant contribution made by the Camphill communities in the UK, and across the World, to supporting vulnerable groups, including people with learning disabilities and the elderly:
"I was delighted to be asked to participate in the Camphill Dialogue and welcome the delegates from all over the world to the birthplace of the Camphill movement here in Aberdeen. Over the 18 years I was the local Member of Parliament, I was involved in the various Camphill communities in the Aberdeen area. I have always been impressed at how disabled people and their contribution to society is valued by those involved in Camphill, never writing anyone off. They were pioneers when they arrived in Aberdeen in the late 1930s and their model of high-quality care for people of all ages remains something to be emulated today."
Councillor M. Tauqeer Malik, a local Councillor to many of the Aberdeen Camphill charities, said:
"It is a great honour to have been asked to partake in the Camphill Dialogue. I am so proud that Aberdeen was the birthplace of this movement, a movement which we should all seek to learn from, one which aims to help people in need whenever possible. Integration, inclusion and respect are essential for a community to thrive; the Camphill movement is a profound example of all of these.
"Camphill has achieved so much over the years and I look forward to see it continue to do so."
Norwood Hall Hotel, Folk evening
Camphill Hall, Murtle Estate, Bieldside
Paul Allen Auditorium, Phoenix Centre, Newton Dee, Bieldside