Thanks to a grant from BBC Children In Need, we have begun a three-year programme of nurture groups. Based at our 4.5 acre green oasis in central Bristol, our staff are particularly passionate about using the outdoors therapeutically. Working with children who find the classroom environment a challenge, the small groups meet on a weekly basis after school, throughout the year, to increase the children’s self-confidence.
Sessions include a snack taken round a table, sharing any news and ideas for activities. For many this shared meal in a small group is a real novelty and a great way to develop social skills. It has been amazing to see the transformation in behaviour in the children over the course of the session. The value of working on the farm, especially with animals, is that they can directly see how their behaviour affects the animals and so develop self-regulation.
‘One child built a particular relationship with an animal and would talk about this in school and make links. This child had often struggled building friendships in school, but since seems to be more confident in the playground and had less incidents where things have gone wrong outside.’
Since many of these children will have missed out on play opportunities, the other popular activity is digging in our digging patch. For one eight-year-old, the mud presented a real challenge as he didn’t want to get ‘dirty’. However when given his first pair of wellies, he spent the rest of the session squelching in the digging patch! Everyone is looking forward to the year ahead and watching more magic happen on the farm.
This summer, we’ve been awarded a booster grant from BBC Children in Need to provide sessions for children referred to us who have been experiencing additional challenges during lock- down. It’s been a lovely opportunity to share the City Farm in this way and the children are loving it.