Summer holiday joy
Most of our farm visits take place during the school term, with primary schools. However, we have become increasingly aware that for many children, the summer holidays can be a pretty bleak time, with very few opportunities to get out and about, especially to the countryside. As a result, at the start of the new term, they may have very little news to share with classmates and their new teacher, and very few happy memories to draw on. Thanks to funding from BBC Children In Need, we are delighted that this summer we have been able to do something about this, with great results. Some of our Farm Discovery Coordinators in the NW have led fabulous farm visits for young carers, children from SELFA, and families participating in the Barnardo's Stronger Families programme.
A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. As a result, young carers have limited opportunities to enjoy themselves. Feedback from the farm visits shows just how important the visits are, and it is a real privilege to see the joy in the children's faces. Suzanne, one of our Coordinators said "The sense that we're making a difference is huge for me from the feedback from the children and group leaders."
One of those group leaders wrote to tell us about the impact of the visit on just one of the children.
A is 9 years old and has been living with her grandmother since she was 18 months old due to her parents’ substance misuse. Over the last number of years her grandmother has had a number of medical conditions, including cancer and cannot use her right hand due to nerve damage. A helps out a lot at home supporting her grandmother with practical tasks around the house and any writing that needs to be done. Her grandmother feels because it is just them at home A is socially isolated, she does not play out and often is not included in birthday parties of school friends as her grandmother is not involved with the parents at school due to her health. They do not have spare money for holidays away.
A loves all animals and talks a lot about wanting to be in the countryside or abroad. Her day out to the farm gave her time with friends, the space to run around at times and she loved the contact with the animals. She paid a lot of attention to the environment we were in looking at plants and fruit, and even found a four leaf clover which she took home with her.
She told our Coordinator “This is the greatest day of my life” and “I was in heaven when I got to stroke the sheep.”
We are very grateful to BBC Children In Need, and to our host farmers who have brought summer joy into the lives of these children.