Intentional communities

This page has technical information about schemes set up to house disabled people in a supportive community.
'Intentional communities' is a term to describe a variety of planned residential communities from eco villages and housing co-operatives to Kibbutzim and Ashrams. Typically members hold common social, religious or spiritual views and share responsibilities and resources.

In the present context ìintentional communitiesî refers to schemes of this type set up specifically to house disabled people who live together as part of a supportive community.

Historically, intentional communities were often set up as small villages or farms in rural areas but some are newer developments in towns like Milton Keynes or may consist of a number of properties spread across an area.

How to access

 There are about 50 communities for people with learning disabilities in the UK. The largest and most well-known are Camphill Communities ( for England & Wales, for Scotland and for Northern Ireland) and L'Arche Communities,, and enquiries or applications can be made direct to them.

Typically they operate a selection process which starts with a visit to the community and may include a trial period living in the community before becoming a full member. Rental series – number 7.

Pros and Cons


  • Can be supportive communities which offer meaningful activity such as work on a farm or market garden, workshop, cafe
  • Some offer a spiritual or religious setting which can be important to some people
  • Safe, caring environment
  • Replace ìprofessional careî with a model based on mutual support and help. Disabled people are seen as equal contributors not passive users of a service.


  • Critics of intentional communities tend to view them as cutting people off from wider society and an ordinary life
  • May offer little security of tenure in a strict legal sense, but this varies
  • Non-disabled members acting as ìsupport residentsî may not stay very long – there is a turnover. One study said this was commonly as little as 12 months1
  • Communities may not accept or be suitable for the most disabled or challenging.

How the money works

Often intentional communities hold money in common and distribute resources to members of the community according to need rather than for example, pay non-disabled members as ìcarersî.Communities will draw on statutory funding like Supporting People Grant or Adult Social Care funding for placements according to their particular form and set up. In some projects Housing Benefit may be claimed by the member (if eligible).

Other issues

Some intentional communities are registered as a care home, some are not and some changed their status following the introduction of Supporting People Grant.
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Learning Disability England
Birmingham Research Park
97 Vincent Drive
Birmingham, B15 2SQ, England
Tel. 0300 2010455
Learning Disability England
Registered company: 4233275
Registered Charity No. 1092587