Care and Support Services
A member of the international federation of communities under L’Arche International, L’Arche Belfast provides a service of domiciliary care and housing support. Care and support are provided at two houses (“The Ember” and “The Hearth”) on the Ormeau Road in Belfast, which we manage in joint partnership with Oaklee/Trinity Housing Association. Part of our mission is to create a safe and loving community in which our service users (“core members” of the community) are accepted for who they are, provided with the care and support they need, and encouraged to make choices for themselves about their own lives.
Care and support are provided by fully trained support workers as well as full-time “live-in” volunteers, who commit to living in L’Arche Belfast for at least one year (and often more). The role of the volunteers is to help create the community which lies at the heart of L’Arche Belfast, and to help develop the extra projects we provide which fall outside of care and support. They are called “live-in” volunteers because they either live alongside core members in one of our houses, or live in a nearby rented house (“The Ark”) which offers additional community space (an art studio, a guest room, and a meeting room) which all community members can make use of.
As well as encouraging independent living, L’Arche encourages core members to live interdependently – to take responsibility for those living around them, both within the context of L’Arche and within the context of the wider community. We help our core members to find ways to build links to their local neighbourhood such as churches, locally-based services, local shops, etc. We also provide opportunities for core members to be involved with planning and making decisions about the service we provide; for example, by including them in strategic planning meetings, core members’ forum (CORUM) meetings, staff interviews/hiring processes, and admissions panels. Since 2010, all of our core members have the opportunity to participate in one or more of our supported work projects – Root Soup (a catering social enterprise), Green Buds (a horticultural project), and In Other Words (a project for the arts and creative expression). The emphasis of these projects is on helping core members to develop new and existing skills, and to provide opportunities for them to give something back to their local communities.