A positive approach to mental health
Lothlorien is a therapeutic community for people with mental health problems, situated in a quiet rural setting in South West Scotland. Lothlorien was originally started in 1974 by the Haughton family, who built the 13 bedroomed log house, one of the largest in its kind in Britain, from locally hewn larch and pine trees. It has been run since 1989 by the Rokpa Trust, an international charity founded by Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche of Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Dumfriesshire. Buddhist values of compassion and tolerance are the basis of our approach, but we are not a religious community and are open to everyone.
The community consists of 8 residents with mental health problems and 5 voluntary co-workers, living in the main house and a further 5 people living in the move-on house, Roan Lodge, which opened in April 2003. The 4 staff, known as the Core Group, come in on weekdays. The community has 17 acres of land, including vegetable gardens, woodland and pasture land. The main house has wheelchair access and a disabled toilet on the ground floor.
Lothlorien Community is based on the therapeutic community model, which includes principles of collective responsibility and empowerment. Central to the life of the community is the daily meeting, where we plan work and other activities, and attempt to address issues of living together as a group in an open way. Each community member is encouraged to share equally in decision making about community affairs.
At Lothlorien, we have a strong belief in everyones potential for well being, even in the midst of pain and distress. We believe that people need not be imprisoned by their past. We avoid diagnosing or labelling, and attempt to break down the distinction which frequently exists between those seen as well and those seen as unwell. As a therapeutic community, we aim to help people to develop their strengths and work towards recovery through the shared experience of community life. All the members of the community play their part in creating a mutually supportive atmosphere and the experience of being part of a therapeutic community allows everyone involved to learn about themselves and how they relate to others.
The ordinary practical tasks of community life, such as gardening, cooking and cleaning, have a grounding effect and the rhythm of daily life provides a structure which helps restore a sense of balance to peoples lives. Relaxation, artwork, massage and QiGong are also part of the programme. Over the winter months, we have a weekly basketry class, using willow grown at Lothlorien.
The members of the Core Group have backgrounds in either social work, psychotherapy or counselling. They work in the community from 9am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday. They are available on call in the evening and at the weekend. The Core Groups main function is to facilitate the therapeutic aims of Lothlorien. Other responsibilities include offering individual support to residents in order to help them gain maximum benefit from their stay, reviewing new applications and overseeing the financial management of the project.
Lothlorien is an innovative alternative approach to mental health, but it is also respected as a valued provision within the mainstream and there are good links with the local statutory mental health services. Residents normally link with a G.P. and with the Community Mental Health Team at the local health centre in Castle Douglas for the duration of their stay here.
We are registered with Social Care & Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) as a housing support service
Lothlorien is a member of the Association of Therapeutic Communities.
Rokpa Trust is a registered charity (no. 1059293 ) and a company limited by guarantee.
How to contact us
Mail: Brendan Hickey (Manager), Lothlorien Community (Rokpa Trust), Corsock, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway, DG7 3DR.
Telephone: 01644 440602. (Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm.)
This site was designed by Andrew Baxter. email: andy at highfellow dot org
photos: Stuart Winters & Martin Moar