We currently have space in the community for new members.
We are a land based
community & are looking for people who'd be able to help
with the practical sides of community life; growing, fixing, maintaining
and building, with the skills and enthusiasm to get jobs done.
How to Apply:
When you first come to visit, as well as doing some work around the site and exploring you should get the opportunity to eat together with everyone at one or more communal meals, and a chance to question members about what its really like living here, as well as asking any questions you have about how the community is set up.
Please, don't be disappointed or take it personally if it doesn't work out, as we often have more good people interested than there are places. We have to concentrate on those whose skills and interests happen to match our current needs and available accomodation.
Apart from one woods, we do not own the site - we rent it from the owner. To do this we have set up two companies:
The housing side of the community is managed by a fully mutual housing co-op (Brithdir Mawr Housing Co-operative Ltd). All full community members are members of the co-op, and vice versa. This housing co-op rents the whole farm (houses and land) from our landlord, and then sublets the land to the limited company.
So, the 85 acres of land and all of the farming side are managed by a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (Brithdir Mawr Community Enterprises ltd). Again all full members are members of the company, and vice versa.
We view these structures basically as a legal tool to help us manage our affairs and deal with the outside world. (Our annual site budget is about £35,000 and we have to fill in tax returns, hold insurance, fire test certificates etc.)
We all pay rent (currently about £214 per month per adult, and £43 per month per child) to the housing co-op. This covers the rent that we pay to our landlord for the site, plus council tax, water, cost of maintaining the electricity system, telephone standing charge, fuel for cooking and heating, maintenance and food for communal meals.
We manage some of the land under various environmental grant schemes and the money that we get for this makes up about half of company funds at the moment. Courses and sales of farm produce such as hay make up the rest. Long term, the farm will pay its own way.
Members are expected to contribute community work each week to keep the place running, as well as their rent. What we do as community work are all the things anyone aspiring to live a rural self-sufficient lifestyle would do anyway
The amount of work that we all do varies across the year. We all have different roles depending on what we are good at and what we enjoy doing. But equally, we are a small community and usually we do all end up helping out a bit with most things.
As a guideline, in order for the community to function as it does, we have found that it takes about eight people about 18 hours work each per week. However, at half-yearly meetings, each member negotiates with the group to fulfill a certain number of tasks over a six-month period according to thier personal circumstances (eg caring for pre-school children; illness, etc) so input of community work may vary from person to person.
We spend Wednesdays working together, plus having our main community business meeting, so everyone is expected to be on site for the day. Apart from this we do our work around the communtiy as and when it needs doing and fits in with the rest of our lives. Community work is unpaid work that is not for your own household eg chopping wood for yourself is not community work but for a communal meal is. Meetings are community work, as is going off site to fetch supplies for the community, cooking a communal meal or cleaning and tidying communal spaces.
It is worth pointing out that the life of the community and the farm is central here, and unless you really like outdoors work, whether wooding, animals, gardening or whatever, you are unlikely to enjoy being here. Some of the things that we do include: fencing, coppicing, gardening, haymaking, cooking communal meals, cleaning, milking, cheesemaking, childcare, making the baler and the tractor work, painting, doing the accounts, looking after the compost toilet and administration.
This does mean that it is impossible to have a full-time job while living here.
Paying the rent
We all work part time either off site or in some cases on site at our own businesses to pay our rent. Anyone coming to the community needs to think about how they would earn a living. It is quite cheap to live here compared to living alone or as a couple, but you do still need an income, both to pay the rent and for your other day to day expenses.
Be aware that community life and running an 85 acre farm takes up a lot of time and energy, which limits what is left for outside work. In practice we mostly work between 2-3 days per week at paid jobs.
Thus living at Brithdir means that you need to be physically and mentally able to work full time. (Half for the community work, half to earn your living)
There is work available in Newport and the surrounding area, but it is pretty limited in type and tends to be seasonal because of the tourist trade. Some of the jobs that current members do are: plumbing, shop work, woodworking, hotel receptionist, forestry, fencing.
We eat together up to five evenings a week. Meals are vegetarian, based as far as possible on our own produce, and often include milk, cheese and eggs from our goats and chickens.
We do occasionally eat meat produced on site (cockerels/male kids) or hunted meat at communal meals, but only with pre-agreement of vegetarian members. People are free to eat what they like in their own spaces.
We have a work meeting once a week, for 2 hours on a Wednesday usually in the afternoon. This covers the basic day to day practical stuff.
Trial members attend these work meetings and may be consulted - but do not get to take part in strategic decisions. Long Term Volunteers may be invited to the meetings.
Our meetings are by Consensus Decision, not voting. This is a formal method of running meetings and if you are not used to it you should ask someone how it works before you attend. If we cannot reach consensus in a meeting then we continue to work on an issue until we get to a solution that we can all live with.
We also have occasional 'feelings meetings' if necessary to share how we are all getting on and sometimes to deal with problems between members of the group. Anyone can request a feelings meeting whenever they think it would help.
We also have extra meetings as necessary to deal with particular issues - usually long-term planning or strategy things - that are too long or complex for the Wednesday meeting. Trial members are not usually invited to these.
Joining the community
We are looking for people who are committed to Brithdir Mawr Community , who bring a spirit of compromise which is necessary when living in such close quarters for others, and for our consensus decision making process. Joining the community is quite a slow process as we all need to be certain (potential and current members!) that we are going to be happy living with each other.
People interested in joining come for a short visit of a week as a volunteer at first, just to get a feel for the place.
If we all get along and you like it here, you would then come back for one or more longer visits, maybe a week or two each time, or perhaps longer as a volunteer depending on your circumstances. If after these visits you are still interested and we have a suitable space available, then we may invite you to come and live at Brithdir as a long term volunteer with a view to becoming a trial member. All prospective members come for the first six months as volunteers. This means you are expected to put in 18 hours a week if single, 12 hours if you have a pre-school child or 24 hours between two parents. Volunteer status also means that after your first two weeks, during which you pay nothing, you pay 50% rent. This is to help you establish some form of income generation. If after six months you are accepted as a potential member, you would then negotiate your community work contract with the group and start paying full rent. During this first year you will have a three-month rolling occupancy agreement. If we don't have a suitable space available, just keep on visiting and get to know us better and then when there is a space available, you will have a better idea of whether it is likely to be right for you. We are not able to keep particular spaces open for people: the community members have the last say on who goes where.
Trial membership lasts for a year( including any time put in as a volunteer), with regular reviews (at 1 month, 3 months and 6 months and 9 months) to see how things are going. This is an important way for us to discuss how someone is fitting in as they find a niche and all our roles adjust to take account of it.
At your review, you will be invited to say how things are going for you, before leaving the room. Then any potential members and long term volunteers may have their say before they leave the room for the final comments from the full members. Comments and decisions will normally be given to you as soon as possible by your sponsor. The review process is not about criticising people but finding a way forward and making things work for all of us as new people join in with our lives here.
If all goes well, at the end of the year you then become a full member and can take full part in strategic decisions at all meetings. You will then also get a 1-year occupancy agreement, and join the Limited Company which runs the farming side of things.
We are currently looking in particular for members with practical skills and an interest in working the land.
We don't have such strict rules about pets as some communities, but please let us know right at the start if you have pets that you would want to bring with you.
In particular, we have a rule of not more than 3 resident dogs here at any one time , and also any dogs that are here must be reliably safe with free-ranging ducks, chickens, sheep, other farm animals, small children and other visitors. Dog owners must undertake to clear up after their animal. We do not have caged pets here.
Part of the Brithdir Mawr Community website at www.brithdirmawr.co.uk