I stumbled upon my old marketing study notes recently, and emblazoned across the top of a page were the words ‘STAKEHOLDER – a person or body with interest or concern in an organisation’. It got me thinking about Jamie’s Farm stakeholders, or something we more affectionately call family. As someone still relatively new to the charity I have been amazed at this deep sense of family; something that is lived out on the farm with our visiting young people (it is a vital strand of our ‘Farming, Family and Therapy’ programme), but also how it extends beyond our farms to supporters too, whether individuals choosing to donate money, volunteers offering up their time or the trusts and businesses that choose to help us financially. All of these stakeholder groups are our extended family, and liaising with these groups forms the basis of my role. This could be in person whilst showing someone around the farm, or in writing funding applications, updates, newsletters or social media posts. It’s a role that I love because I get to talk to the people who want to find ways to support Jamie’s Farm, and I am constantly blown away by the level of ‘concern’ these stakeholders have in what we are doing.
That is that we have a shared concern for young people in the UK, especially those facing challenges that are holding them back from flourishing in education, often spiralling into trouble as a result. Our ‘Farming, Family and Therapy’ programme has proven to be a catalyst for change, so much so, that to meet growing demand we are expanding to a third farm this year. But what does the ‘Family’ part of the programme actually look like?
Our young visitors cherish the sense of family here– it is instilled in the week from the moment they step off the minibus. It’s in the way they prepare food and sit down together for every meal; in walking together daily in the surrounding countryside; in ending the day with games and a story; in staff providing positive role models; in valuing the importance of listening, and it’s in the environment where this all happens, straying away from an institutionalised setup to a more cosy, homely and welcoming space. Learning to live and work together in this family dynamic encourages cooperation, whilst at the same time boosting self-esteem with a simple mix of encouragement and togetherness.
What does family with our supporters look like? Again, food features and is a central part of our many events bringing people together. This could be when our converted barn is brimming with 60 runners ahead of the Bath Half marathon at our Pasta Party, or when we’re dancing the night away at our upcoming Burns’ night, or when we’re cooking pizzas with a group of corporate volunteers in our outdoor kitchen. Essentially, we love to host and welcome people at the farms, and we find they like it too. Family goes both ways, and is powerfully visible via the businesses who come alongside us and the ways they choose to do so. Recently, employees at Benugo and Allmanhall gave up Christmas presents in lieu of a donation to us. Last year, Hanson (the nationwide concrete company), chose to generously provide free materials, expertise and time to make our Herefordshire farm a slick and efficient operation. Marshfield Farm Ice Cream regularly sends in donations from groups who have been on a factory tour. Other businesses choose us as their charity of the year, donate a % of profits, commit to an ambitious fundraising target or enrol in challenge events. There are numerous ways to be involved. Ultimately, businesses choosing to support Jamie’s Farm are choosing to invest in the next generation, in particular in those that need a chance for change, one that might not otherwise come their way.
Our charity-business partnerships always start with a conversation and naturally I am asked about the difference we actually make. Our monitoring is rigorous with stats and figures demonstrating the impact of our programme. However, it’s the snippets I overhear or an anecdote a colleague shares that I love the most. For instance, a teacher recently text my colleague to share that one of her students had told her that the first night he got home from the farm he asked his family if they could do something new and sit and eat at a table together. A different child stood up and spoke to a room of 60 people in Bath last month, boldly declaring that this was something he could never have done before his time on the farm, going on to describe it as his second home and extended family. On one of the evening walks, I asked a young girl what had been her highlight of the week. She proudly said it was hearing the positive things her teachers and peers thought of her in one of the group discussions – “I have never heard things like that about me before”.
We are evolving as an organisation and as we do we will need to continue to strengthen our finances. It is our hope that in 2017 we will find more businesses choosing to come alongside us in this critical time of growth. Perhaps you could think about what you could do or who you could introduce us to? Do you know a business or a trust that could work with us? We’d love to hear from you and invite you into the folds of Jamie’s Farm’s expanding family.
Written by Sarah Wheeler
Sarah is looking after fundraising, communications and events at Jamie’s Farm and is based at Hill House Farm in Box (normally alongside Katie who is on maternity leave). She has worked both sides of charity-business relationships and is eager to see this grow at Jamie’s Farm. If you would like to discuss anything funding or comms related or to share ideas you can contact her firstname.lastname@example.org