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BBC London News

Published: 23rd July 2020
BBC London News

“I was basically new and didn’t talk and always had fights, and after just the first visit [to Jamie’s Farm] that almost stopped completely.” Georgie, volunteering at Oasis Farm Waterloo.

On BBC London News, we heard from some of our fantastic young people explaining how much they value the Jamie’s Farm programme that they have been doing at Oasis Farm Waterloo. We also heard from Jake, Jamie’s Farm Deputy CEO, about the recent restrictions on residential trips.

Restrictions of educational residentials:

In light of the current government guidance which advises against residential trips from mainstream schools, we have adapted our model to run more day visits instead. These will be primarily focused on pupils who really need and deserve this opportunity from the immediate area around our rural locations. So far, the visits we have hosted have been hugely valuable.

However, we also know that a really important aspect of our programme is the immersive and family aspect that can only be provided when we have children staying on our farms. Many Headteachers at our partner schools based in the inner-cities are currently telling us that their pupils really need an opportunity like our residential provision to get away from some of their challenges – particularly given that their vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the lockdown period. With the distance that some of our schools are from our farms, day visits just aren’t an option.

We have put a lot of work into making sure our facilities and our programmes are Covid-secure, and we have developed a thorough risk assessment to reduce the risk of any transmission on our farms. Our staff are well trained and we have adapted our therapeutic sessions to ensure they can happen with social distancing in mind. Given that restaurants, pubs and hotels are open and many more affluent families have been able to go on a summer holiday to far-flung places this year, we feel it is simply wrong that vulnerable children – for instance, multiple groups of children in care – have had their trips to Jamie’s Farm cancelled this summer because of somewhat blunt guidance.

We understand how difficult making these kind of decisions is for the government, and it is vital that we take care in order to prevent a significant resurgence of Covid-19. However, we are devastated that we are not able to host the most vulnerable children overnight, at the very time when they need us most. A petition allowing educational residentials is available here, and we would be very grateful if you could help us by signing it to get this changed.