We have recently submitted project reports that were really uplifting to read, highlighting some of the amazing work our team do to help people.
The Woodshed Project, funded by Bupa Foundation, transformed the ‘storage shed’ into a carpentry workshop space where people of mid-life could come together and learn basic woodwork skills and improve their mental health. There was a real range of people on the courses and a varying level of support and guidance required from person-to-person. We placed participants, as best we could, in groups where common interests, capability and support needs were at a similar level to maximise connection between individuals.
Participants learnt how to make a number of different items during the courses, including stools, spice racks, bug boxes and planters. All items were made using reclaimed wood.
Feedback from participants
Participants took away with them far more than a newly found confidence in working with wood and tools. People overcame personal barriers and improved their confidence and wellbeing as well.
Participants were asked what they had gained from the course.
“The woodshed gave me a sense of purpose at a difficult time of my life. It encouraged me to see things through to the end! Thanks so much”
“A reason to wake up in the morning. Really enjoyed it.”
“I feel better about going into new situations where I feel like I know nothing about the subject matter. In the crazy COVID-19 times it’s been a nice constant. It also very much takes your mind off things.”
“Interacting with new people, building confidence in communicating with them. Not quitting despite feeling uncomfortable at times.”
“A sense of purpose. Something to look forward to. Feeling of achievement. Something to be proud of. Learning new skills that are useful for the future.”
“Confidence, inspiration and new friends.”
“Had a great group to work with, good company and using your hands is so beneficial. I will miss this activity, thanks for this opportunity.”
“Friendship, confidence, happiness, self-belief. ”
We have a 3-year project funded by BBC Children in Need to work with local families who are facing hardship. We run sessions with small groups and individual families. All the children live in local high rise flats and have little access to outdoor activities.
The sessions improve mental health by providing a break for the families and children, many of whom were feeling isolated from their normal activities. One family said how happy it made them just to be outside.
Finances for many of the families have been impacted as they were already on low incomes. Having their children able to do a free activity was a real boost. We provided waterproof equipment so that their clothes could stay clean. This was a concern to many of them as they have restricted access to clothes washing.
The children’s confidence grew throughout the sessions and relationships with siblings, stressed through the lock down, were strengthened.
The activities built up connections with the farm. We see several families here on other days with the children pointing out what they had done in their sessions. They were able to take window box salads home to grow and were keen to share how they were doing.
Several of the children asked to take their diaries home so that they could share them with school when it began. This was especially important as the beginning of term always brings the question ‘What did you do?’ and some children feel embarrassed as they never go on holiday. One child said she wanted to show her teacher the picture of her with animals so she’d know what a good farmer she is.
N’s family live in a high rise flat. There are 6 children in very small accommodation and the family had been too fearful to allow the children to leave the flat at all for several months.
They agreed to come to the Farm while it was closed to the public to see our facilities and how we would make our sessions safe. Having arrived in a tense state, by the end of the session they were smiling and laughing together, having enjoyed a positive outing together for the first time in 3 months.
Following this visit, N and three siblings came to weekly sessions which gave them fresh air, contact with nature and lessened the family tension which had built up. The sessions provided a sense of structure and support which had been missing during lockdown.
N said “I know the Farm now. This is my best day. I was scared of the chicks but now I love them.” These comments show how connected N became during the sessions and how his self-belief had increased. Having been unwilling to come close to the chicks, by the end he was letting them stand on his head.
The benefits of connection with nature have become more recognised during this pandemic. The BBC Children In Need funding has allowed us to support children to overcome the added pressures Covid has brought.