When did you first visit Jamie’s Farm?
I first came to the Bath farm five years ago when I was 15.
What were your thoughts at the start of the week at Jamie’s Farm?
I wasn’t really expecting much, I was kind of almost dreading it because I’m really not a farm kind of person. I didn’t really like animals much. I didn’t expect it to be the way it was, it was completely different to what I was expecting. I was expecting it to be solely based on farm activities and the animals, and it wasn’t that. The people I came with, I wasn’t really friends with them and I didn’t know them very well. I have always been a bit anxious in group settings, I don’t feel very comfortable. But I think the experience helped me because it forced me to put myself in that situation and just go for it, and I think it paid off.
Did you feel differently at the end of the week?
There were lots of different aspects in which I felt different. I think on a personal level, there was some element of peace that came with the week. As in we don’t always have to be rushing, we don’t always have to be doing something. I sometimes feel guilty when I’m not doing anything, which means I never get to take a break and I’m always on the go doing something, working or studying. Jamie’s Farm said “take a break” and taught me that you don’t have to feel guilty about it – you should do it for your own peace of mind. Even since leaving the farm, I’ve always referred back to that mindset; don’t feel guilty for taking a break, you’re allowed to.
What part of the experience did you find most challenging?
Letting go of the guilt was the hardest part. Saying I’m allowed to feel this way, I’m allowed to be upset, I’m allowed to take a break -whatever it is. There can be shame or guilt in feeling certain emotions, and I think the first step to overcoming that is the most difficult. You have to stop judging yourself first, and then allow yourself to have the space to do what you need to do and feel what you need to feel.
What was your favourite part of the experience?
I really dreaded the evening hikes, I’m not a walker, but I think the moment right after you finish the climb and everyone just sits down in groups – nobody says anything, everyone is silent and just looking at the view. It’s one of the most genuine experiences someone can have. You’re not doing anything, you have other people’s presence, you’re staring at a view, and it feels like a reward for doing something so difficult. I loved it, however much I hated the hike, I always loved sitting down and looking at the view afterwards.
Did you notice anything different about yourself by the end of the week?
Not judging myself so harshly, or not being so critical of myself. The farm teaches you to be kind to yourself, as well as kind to others, but sometimes it’s much easier to be kind to others than to yourself. At the end of the week I started allowing myself to feel certain ways, or act a certain way, or react a certain way, I don’t have to judge myself and ask why am I upset, why am I angry? That part of me felt quite different.
What does being a Jamie’s Farm Ambassador mean to you?
Knowing what Jamie’s Farm did for me and how much it stuck with me even years after I’ve left, and knowing that I can help do that for somebody else, brings a level of satisfaction that you can’t really get with anything else. If the experience has helped me as a single person this much, imagine me now being able to help it do the same thing for multiple different people! That is a big part of why I feel proud to be an Ambassador.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently doing a Maths degree at Imperial College. I don’t know what I want to do with it afterwards, but I have different options. I think I’m doing the opposite of what I normally do which is plan too much or think too far ahead. Now I’m thinking you know what, just focus on the moment now and whatever happens later, happens. But either maybe Finance or doing a PhD and going into research in Maths.
What advice would you give a young person who has been invited to come to Jamie’s Farm?
Try to actually enjoy it from the start. Try to make the most of it. It sounds cliché but I really do mean it. If you go into it with a certain idea of “I’m not doing that”, “I don’t care”, “I don’t want to be here”, you’re not going to get out of it what you could. Even though you feel like that is what you would be most comfortable doing, in reality, that’s not the truth. If you just open yourself up and give yourself the chance to see another way, then the experience will be a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling. Be open to the experiences, even if it’s not what you’re used to, it will all pay off in the end.
Jess took part in our 2018-19 Ambassador Programme. Our Ambassadors are a group of young people from across England and Wales, who have previously taken part in our standard programme and demonstrated exceptional potential. Over the course of 12 months, the group meet quarterly at each of our farms to provide us with constructive feedback on how to adapt and improve our programme, and we provide the opportunity to further develop their skills and deepen their engagement with Jamie’s Farm.