In The Press

Community foundation grant helps farm charity

A Wiltshire Community Foundation grant is helping Jamie’s Farm at Box, near Corsham, provide a unique rural experience for hundreds of youngsters who have never seen the countryside.

1 / 10 (view others here)
Tish Feilden, Founder and Lead Therapist

Founded by Jamie Feilden and his mum Tish in 2010, the farm charity takes teenagers from urban environments in Wiltshire and all around the south of the country and gives them a week working and playing on a working farm surrounded by stunning scenery, eating nourishing food and sampling a way of life far removed from their own.

The grant pays for an administration post in the charity’s busy office. In addition to the farm in Box it has two others in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire and is soon to open another one in Lewes in East Sussex. In Box alone there are 38 school visits a year.

Jamie was a teacher in Croydon and began bringing animals in from his parents’ smallholding in Warleigh, near Bath, to try and break through to troubled teens he was dealing with. The impact persuaded to try it again and eventually he began bringing small parties of youngsters to the smallholding.

With the aid of some fundraising he and Tish brought 15-acre Hill Top Farm in Box and began converting into the working farm and education centre it is today. Eight staff on site are responsible for delivering the five days of freedom and exploration that has a lasting effect on the young people who arrive at the farm gate, still shackled to their urban way of life.

“We don’t have sugar here or additives and we make them give up their mobile phones, which is the biggest deal for them,” says fundraising and volunteer manager Katie Francis.

The young people have to give up their phones, which for many is the last and most binding connection with their home lives, en route to the farm.

The teenagers who come to Jamie’s Farm are selected for a variety of reasons, says Tish. “I’d say a third of them are not engaging, they are cripplingly shy, they are not turning up for school and they have low social confidence.

School report fewer exclusions and better engagement in the classroom for the teenagers and enhanced professional development for the teachers who accompany with them.

“We see such a positive impact in the young people that come here,” says Tish. “They will be more willing to help mum at home, they will have the confidence to put their hands up in class.

They will take from here experiences and feelings that will stay with them.”

On her blog she adds: “Jamie’s Farm can be a new beginning and the instincts are on the mend. Feeling good, trumps being bad, and hopefully new patterns can build. Confidence builds confidence, kindness breeds kindness and trust creates trust. Children are still malleable and searching to love and feel lovable.”

Find out more about Jamie’s Farm at jamiesfarm.org.uk