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New charity farm for disadvantaged children

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 By Victoria Hallifax – Read the full article

A NEW charity venture aimed at helping disadvantaged children is due to open near Monmouth later this year.

Jamie’s Farm has recently purchased a property in Redbrook, and is in the process of setting up and hiring staff for its third operation.

The charity, which was launched in 2005 at its first base near Bath and became fully registered in 2009, recently opened a branch in Herefordshire and has made Redbrook its next location of choice, due to open around October this year.

Founded by teacher Jamie Feilden while he was working in urban Croydon, Jamie began running class visits to his home farm in Bath after receiving a positive response to bringing lambs into the school playground.

He found that giving the children the chance to nurture animals, and experience the rewards and responsibilities of working on the farm, brought down emotional walls and tense, ‘prickly’ fronts in the children.

Jamie’s Farm targets children from inner-city areas who are struggling in school, especially with low grades, poor attendance, or troubles that look likely to result in exclusion or expulsion. The charity works alongside schools to bring small groups of children out to the countryside in term-time, from a Monday to Friday, to live on site for what they have dubbed ‘farming, family and therapy,’ as students also take part in group and one-to-one theraputic sessions during their time on site.

The 64-acre working farm will house cattle, sheep, horses and pigs, with children having the opportunity to also take part in other activities such as carpentry, gardening, cooking, and equine therapy.

Several members of staff will live on site, and the team wish for the farm to be a part of the community, as they plan open days and meet-and-greets at the Redbrook base. The children will explore the area on group walks and even trips to the local pubs for hot chocolate.

The development and progress of the children who visit Jamie’s Farm is monitored when they return to school. In 2016, 82 per cent of children who were at risk of permanent exclusion were no longer in that category six weeks on.

The two previously established farms have been visited by children from mainly the London area, but it is hoped that children from Bristol, the West Midlands and the South West will be able to benefit from the Redbrook site.

Jamie’s Farm is recruiting for a range of positions, and there will also be plenty of opportunities to volunteer on-site when the farm opens later in the year.