We are really happy that our Care Farm provision re-opened at the beginning of August, after being temporarily closed since March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is wonderful to see everyone and have our hands back into the soil!

Our Care Farm participants, adults and young people with a range of support needs including learning disabilities, mental health issues and acquired brain injury, are already at risk of social isolation, and this isolation has been exacerbated through the Coronavirus pandemic. When the lockdown period began, we realised the impact this would have on our participant’s well being. Our Care Farm team set their minds to finding creative ways to help our participants stay connected to our Fold community. We set up our ‘Natter and Nature’ service, offering regular phone calls, weekly nature inspired activities sent by post and delivered veg boxes to those finding it difficult to access fresh, healthy food. Our participants have told us about how this has supported them through the lockdown period;

“Being in isolation has been hard and I’ve had a couple of weeks in total isolation due to symptoms, I’ve really missed The Fold, but have found the calls and contact with people from The Fold really uplifting, and makes me feel less alone on dark days, and gives me someone to share the positives with on better days, I can’t thank them enough.”- participant

Since the lockdown period has lifted, we are emerging into a world that feels quite different. Recovery, restoration, adaptation, transformation, new normal – these are all words we’re now starting to hear on a daily basis and whatever we call it, we are now moving in to the next phase of this pandemic and starting to look to the future.  The Red Cross reports that although social distancing and lock down measures continue to be eased, loneliness will remain and, for some, continue to grow. How we best support those attending our Care Farm, from our participants, to our volunteers and staff is at the front our minds as we reopen – balancing the importance of protecting physical health alongside supporting good mental health through human connection and interaction.

We have organised our farm activities such as cleaning out the hens and harvesting potatoes, so that we can follow social distancing guidelines. We have set up our fire circle, tea break and lunch area and indoor spaces so that we can maintain a 2 metre distance whilst also maintaining a community atmosphere. Each person has their own box for personal belongings, and named gloves, hand sanitiser and a face mask to carry with them to use when needed.

It would not have been possible to re-open our Care Farm provision without the support of our dedicated team of volunteers. Our volunteers have been making regular phone calls, delivering veg boxes, supporting participants now the Care Farm is reopen, as well as help from behind the scenes through donating material, lending sewing machines, making face masks and more, thank you so much!

We have been busy applying for funding opportunities to enable us to best support our participants and remain sustainable in these changing and uncertain times. We are really pleased to have our Care Farm as part of Aviva Community Fund, where employees of Aviva and members of the public are able to donate to our fundraising project. Please follow this link to find out more