Tobias Jones talks about the communal refuge he runs, the criteria for allowing newcomers in and the effect of his faith
• Book extract: ‘Communalism can be an antidote to the sadnesses and sorrows of modern life’
Early on in the book, you say that you and your wife, Francesca, opened your house to others “not because of a feeling of superiority, but because of identification”…
In my early 20s, I had a pretty acute breakdown. It felt like I’d been skinned alive and I used to sit in an armchair for hours just trying to build up the energy to make a cup of tea. But I remember, too, the exemplary kindness of people who helped me through. That makes it easier for me to understand something of what people are going through here and, hopefully, to pass on some of the kindness that I received.
How do people find their way to you?
Some of them are referred: many from mental health teams around Somerset and Wiltshire, many from GPs’ surgeries, from rehabs and local and national charities, from parole officers, social workers. Some self-refer. By now, a lot of it is word of mouth, with people having heard about us on the west country grapevine.