Jason Glass is Director of Operations at Camphill Blair Drummond. Appointed in 2008 Jason is fully committed to securing the future of Camphill Blair Drummond, and realising our vision of offering a safe, happy and supportive community to residents, day students and members of the wider community.
Read our interview with Jason
What made you take on the role of Director at Camphill Blair Drummond?
Since qualifying as a Mental Health nurse in 1995, I have always worked in a social care setting. Prior to joining Camphill Blair Drummond, I was in an operational role overseeing a number of services across Scotland, that delivered good care, but something was missing. I felt I wasn’t maximising my approach to life, as I wasn’t helping to realise the potential in the people I was caring for and supporting.
At Camphill Blair Drummond, I got a strong sense of community. Something about the vibrancy, the life, the people, the connections, the relationships resonated, and it felt like the right place to be. There were big challenges ahead, but this was a unique opportunity to lead and to realise ambitions for the good of all involved in the community at Camphill Blair Drummond.
Did you get the sense that Blair Drummond was ready for change? How did the community react to your appointment?
Yes there certainly was!. On my first day I had this sense of ‘well we’ve been waiting for you to arrive, to make changes, we’re handing the keys over to you’ which was quite daunting yet also exciting. The reality was that the necessary changes could only be achieved if we all worked collectively. My approach focused on bringing everyone on board, by setting out the shared vision in terms of the security the changes would offer to all. From the start, I have wanted all of us to be part of something that is successful; any changes must provide personal opportunities for all, security in terms of home and work life, job security for our employees and a personal sense of worth and value for everyone involved.
Can you describe your vision for Camphill Blair Drummond in 2008 when you joined, and today, ten years down the line, in 2018?
In 2007, the harsh reality was that if Camphill Blair Drummond did not change there was a risk of closure. The momentum for change was there and the Board of Trustees were very much part of that; recognising that the future lay in finding the right people to move forward and raise the funds needed to secure our future. There was a drive to secure critical funding for the purpose built homes and workshops that would allow us to grow and bring security, to develop Camphill Blair Drummond as a place people can always call home and where everyone nurtures, supports and challenges each other. The first phase of our vision– at a cost of £10m – was the build and/or renovation of seven large ‘family size’ houses, along with a range of purpose-built workshops and improvements to our infrastructure.
The next phase of our vision is about adding potential. My focus is to change and adapt our ‘service offering’ to meet the needs of the individuals we support now and in the future. We want our community to remain valued relevant and vibrant, and to provide ongoing opportunities for those involved in its day to day life and work, to realise their own potential.
We are refurbishing our bakery to create new work opportunities and with the aim of developing a small social enterprise business where we sell to a range of local delis, farm shops and the local area. And we are focusing on health and wellbeing with plans to develop a ‘sports and recreation centre’ for everyone at Camphill, and potentially the local community.
What are the biggest challenges that you face as you develop the community and take it forward into 2020 and beyond?
I think my biggest challenge is the whole process of managing change when there’s a risk that people get to a point where they feel really comfortable. My role is to look at the horizon, to see what is happening out there, and to ensure we keep pace with developments within the social care market and remain relevant, whilst also recognising the need to enhance the opportunities available in our community. Then there are politics to consider, the increasing costs of service provision, Government and local authority funding challenges and of course, changing expectations!.
Can you identify what makes Camphill Blair Drummond and Camphill itself as a movement different from other care providers?
For me, what makes Camphill stand out are the meaningful relationships we nurture. If you need support to lead a fulfilling life, then you need more than someone coming in and just meeting your every day needs. We all value having people alongside us in life or work, sharing and experiencing life with you. For me, it is not just about being a ‘service provider’ or a ‘service user’. Support and care involves human contact, meaningful interaction and shared values and purpose in life. The people who work or volunteer in our community are here to be part of something, they create relationships which are not simply those between a professional carer and a service user. Friendships form, sometimes unlikely ones, and our young overseas volunteers in particular, develop the strongest of bonds with our residents, our day students and with their fellow volunteers.
What other projects have you earmarked to develop in the foreseeable future?
In addition to the bakery and the sports and recreation centre, we are focused on developing our gardens and estate. The listed grounds were laid out for a Victorian family, and we want to develop them for our enjoyment now, and you could also say for ‘the next generation’. We are developing vegetable gardens, a sensory garden, a sensory walkway, activity areas, animal husbandry, landscaped areas, a place for working green houses. These will enhance the options for people to work, learn and share life together, depending on their interests and skills, but also to create social spaces that are suitable for the people that we support, where they can relax, unwind, or cope with the challenges life brings them. We also want to enhance our employee volunteering experiences, to provide them the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful and productive way to our community. We want to move our community ‘beyond care’, establishing and maintaining a vibrant rural community which is valued, respected and remains relevant for all those who live, work or volunteer here.
What contribution do you think Camphill Blair Drummond makes, and can continue to make, to the local community?
We are one of the biggest employers in rural Stirlingshire. People take pride in working for an organisation that is recognised as a good employer, there is a sense of value. We work at our relationships with the local community too; we have established good relationships with the local school and farm shop for example, and we are looking at how we can get our people involved with the Safari Park.
We have worked hard to evolve from being a respected, but potentially viewed as a slightly ‘closed community’. We have gradually broken down barriers – people now recognise what an amazing place Camphill Blair Drummond is. The local community and the relationships we have developed and nurture, are just like any neighbourly relationship. And they answer a need in all of us for connection, relationships and respect. We as a community take pride in having this at the core of all we do.
What would you like your personal legacy to Camphill Blair Drummond be?
I can be quite uncomfortable with people complimenting me on what I have achieved. I might be ‘captain of the ship’ but we all need to pull together to enjoy success. My belief is that everyone has something to offer and I want to get the best out of everyone. I would hope that people look back and say ‘he was always true to what he believed in, maybe he made mistakes but he remained true to why he was here and how he approached his role of leading Camphill Blair Drummond, he wanted to help everyone realise their potential and achieved this in securing the future of this inspiring community, one that we can confidently call ‘our community, our Camphill Blair Drummond.’