What Is L’Arche?
L’Arche (French for ‘The Ark’) is an international federation of 140 communities worldwide founded on faith and inspired by the gifts of people who have learning disabilities. By ‘community’ we mean a group of people of different ages, creeds, capacities and social and ethnic backgrounds connected to one another through a belief that everyone, irrespective of their circumstances, can have a positive impact on the lives of others. In our communities people with and without learning disabilities choose to live together in a spirit of friendship. We recognise the unique value of every person, the gifts we have to offer and our need for one another.
L’Arche promotes strong community-based care and support services, and creates opportunities for people who have learning disabilities to take up their place in their local communities, to realise their potential, and to be enabled to make an active contribution to society.
We experience community as a place that draws people together, leading them into meaningful ways of belonging to one another as friends, family, neighbours and citizens.
We are committed to a vision of the world where everyone, irrespective of capacity, creed, colour, race, age or gender, has a place where they belong and can offer their gifts.
- To make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities revealed through mutually transforming relationships.
- To foster an environment in community that responds to the changing needs of our core members.
- To engage with others who share our vision to work together toward a more human society.
Love: We acknowledge the transformative power of love and we are committed to keeping love at the heart of care and community.
Friendship: We believe that every human heart longs for friendship – the kind of friendship that creates space for giving and receiving. We believe that true friendship has the power to heal and transform and helps us to know and be known beyond the identities and labels that limit us.
Respect: We believe that all human life is sacred, having equal and unconditional value. We strive to respect everybody for who they are, for their strengths and abilities, and for what they can contribute to community and society.
Simplicity: We opt for a simple lifestyle. Moderation and balance underlie our choices and we are committed to using our resources, including money and time, in ways that are most likely to make life better for others and ourselves.
Interdependence: We recognise that ‘dependence and independence’ are inherent aspects of life. We recognise that beyond any roles or status that may define us, as human beings we are interconnected and interdependent and rely on one another physically, economically, ecologically, socially, emotionally, spiritually and politically. We promote mutuality and co-operation in all aspects of community life and service provision.
Common Sense: In response to challenging situations and opportunities we are committed to making decisions and taking actions that are simple and practical.
Diversity: We intentionally welcome, respect and celebrate difference and we affirm the great diversity of the human community. We are committed to equal opportunities and we seek to ensure that we are representative of and enriched by the communities and groups of people who make up the society in which we live.
Participation: We value ‘being with’ rather than ‘doing for’ people and we support people to take their part, to have a voice, to be at the centre of their own planning and to take the risks associated with their life choices.
Meaningful Contribution: In the context of living fulfilled lives we believe that it is important for all of us have the opportunity to consider the meaning of our work. We desire that the people associated with L’Arche will experience their work as a response to a call and we wish to encourage and nurture deep commitments, friendships, non-paid relationships, and life sharing.
The Power of Possibility: We encourage people to create possibilities for their lives that delight them, fulfil their concerns, and give them futures worth living into and we support one another in the fulfilment of those possibilities.
Environmental Responsibility: We aim to minimise our negative impact on the environment by supporting people in the reduction of waste, promoting recycling and composting, greener consumption and transport and energy efficiency. We actively seek to reduce the community’s carbon footprint and work towards more sustainable environmental practices.
Natural Supports: Much of the activity of L’Arche Belfast focuses on supporting people to create friendships within their local communities so that friends and neighbours can support them in a natural way. In a climate of reducing public resources we see an opportunity to take up the role of facilitator of community and neighbourhood support in addition to the provision of essential support services.
Citizenship: Everyone, regardless of background and ability has the ability to contribute to his or her community in a meaningful way. Giving of ourselves helps us establish a sense of belonging and identity and to make a difference in the lives of others.
The primary task of L’Arche is to create a community that acknowledges the profound desire of every human being for love, friendship, respect and autonomy and where everyone has a place and can offer their gifts.
In our relationships, interactions and activities we strive to foster an atmosphere of welcome, friendship and belonging and create an environment where people can grow, make choices and be valued and contributing members of society.
We seek to reveal the particular gifts of people who have learning disabilities in creating a softer, slower and more human world.
Self Care: To provide discreet and respectful support to people in all aspects of their personal care – teaching skills and encouraging independence where appropriate.
Home Making: To teach people the skills that help them to create a comfortable, safe and secure home with others where they have a real sense of belonging and control.
Community Building: To support people to participate in their local churches, clubs, leisure centres etc. and to shop locally.
Personal Development: To support people to reach their full potential by offering opportunities to grow, learn, and develop personally, interpersonally, creatively and spiritually.
Going for it: To encourage people to create possibilities for themselves that excite them and to help them to take the steps necessary to make that possibility a reality.
Risk Management: To identify, in liaison with all of those involved, the risks inherent in exercising personal choice and following a dream. We will develop plans and actions that realise the positive potential and minimise the negative. We are committed using available professional and other resources and support to help people achieve their desired outcomes in a safe and sustainable way.
Family and Friends: To assist people to maintain and deepen their relationships with family and friends and to include family and friends in community activities.
Professional Relationships: To assist people to create and maintain professional relationships and support systems.
>To find out more please read the Charter of L’Arche (PDF)