Birchwood Hall Community is generally open to new members – both adults and children — and we invite enquiries from people who might be interested in joining us. If you would like to get the process started, please send an initial email to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To go from an initial enquiry to becoming a member of the community can often take a long time and may seem like a long-winded process, but the success and stability of Birchwood Hall depends crucially on how well we get on as a group, so we feel that it’s important both for you and for us to take the time to get to know each other.
So here’s how the process works:
We will respond to your initial enquiry by asking you to provide more information and answer a few questions about your reasons for wanting to live communally and your expectations of communal living. We will use your information and answers to decide whether we want to proceed to the next stage, and if so, we will invite you for an afternoon or evening visit at a mutually convenient time.
After that initial visit, we will both need to make a decision about whether we want to carry on with the process. If so, you will be assigned a member of the community who will be your main point of contact from then on, and who will be able to answer questions, make arrangements for further visits etc.
The next stage will be a series of visits, increasing in duration over time as your circumstances permit, until we feel that we have got to know each other well enough, and you have got a good enough sense about what living at Birchwood is like, to make decisions about whether your joining the community is the right thing for you and for us.
This process is not completely open-ended — but it may take a number of months and in some cases has taken up to a year, in part because visits are not always easy to arrange. If people have specific circumstances which mean that they need a final decision to be made by a certain time, we will try to accommodate this but we are usually very reluctant to compress the process.
Once you are invited to join the community and you move in, the first six months will be regarded as a trial period. You will be a fully-functioning member of the community, but you will only pay rent at a basic fixed level. At the end of six months there will be one last assessment – by you and by us – of whether things are working. If we’re both happy at this point, you will become a full member, you will pay your membership fee to the co-operative (£1), we will all have a celebratory drink, and your rent will then be calculated on the same basis as the rest of us, which means it will be partially income-related.
If you have any questions about this process, please ask.