OPENhouse was founded in 1978, under the company name Shire Training Workshops Ltd. This remains our company name although over the last years we have also traded as the Painswick Inn Project and Five Valleys Foyer. The company rebranded as OPENhouse in October 2011.
Although OPENhouse has developed significantly throughout these years it has continued to provide housing, support and education and always remained true, and developed in accordance with, our charitable vision, mission, values, and core principles.
The Goethean Centre (1924) cites how “anthroposophy in everyday life helps us to develop the self knowledge required for self transformation”. This statement is at the heart of OPENhouse and has been since 1978. Quite simply, we are a transition service that works closely with vulnerable individuals to enable the facilitation of self knowledge that will inform the next step of their life journey as functioning independent members of the community.
Throughout the organisation the principles of Steiner are respected, especially through the educational opportunities that are offered where creativity is at the core of the timetable. To reinforce this further, the education department was re-launched as the Creative Learning Centre in September 2011. As the name suggests creative thinking is at the heart of our learners’ programme within the Creative Learning Centre. The term creative is used in its broadest sense to mean original, imaginative, and resourceful. The programme extends directly from the unique learning styles, interests and needs of the individuals we work with. Whole group sessions allow for individualised and differentiated learning. The aim being to engage, inspire and extend individuals’ potential through a genuinely person centred approach. This is further stimulated by the aesthetic teaching environment within which the learning takes place.
The creative learning workshops and music studios are not formal training rooms or classrooms they are non threatening work environments. The learning environment is stimulating and meaningful to the learners’ activities. Added to this the continuity of each week provided by the regular daily rhythms provides a secure framework within which vulnerable and disengaged young people have the confidence to become autonomous learners. Without clearly delineated points of the week or daily break times, open lunch sessions and events there is a risk that the creativity can evolve into chaos. In the same way the residents in Painswick Inn house and Delmont’s Lot have to abide within the clear boundaries of their contract and this is an important part of their self transformation. The need for clear boundaries is particularly fundamental when working with young people who have had or are having chaotic lives.
Although the varying departments; housing, enhanced support, education, property, HR, finance, and administration clearly have their own individual areas of focus it is essential for the coherence and continuity of experience of the service user that there is a shared process and approach. This collective ‘spirit of delivery’ is fundamental to the ethos of the organisation and underpins all work carried out across OPENhouse. This work can be clearly epitomised through placing the individual at the very centre of everything we do; OPENhouse is unequivocally Person Centred.