What our young people say:

"If the Farm hasn’t given up on me, then I won’t give up on it."

"I am going to miss everyone at the Farm, they were like the family I never had."

"And so Okay I’ve no degree but the Farm gave me ability. Thanks for all you did for finding a way for this lost kid."

93% of young people on placement in 2019 at Amelia Trust Farm move on to education, training or employment.

If it was not for the Farm, several of my students would have dropped out of education and not received any qualifications.

Vikki HullVocational Initiatives Coordinator, Cantonian High School, Cardiff

The healthy relationship that exists between the two establishments is paramount in ensuring that the best educational curriculum is provided for the pupil. It is so important in these changing times of education that a facility such as Amelia Farm exists to offer an alternative to the ‘traditional’ academic pathway that many pupils follow.

Phil HaynesDeputy Head, Greenhill Special School, Cardiff

We have used Amelia Trust Farm for many years and they have always been superb at providing the appropriate care for the most disaffected pupils. The service they provide is a unique way for pupils to re-engage in practical and formal education.

Alun EvansBESD Co-ordinator, Fitzalan High School, Cardiff

'If the farm hasn't given up on me, then I won't give up on it!'

16 year old Jennifer began her placement as she was struggling with mainstream education. There had been a number of occasions where her level of frustration had escalated to a verbal or physical outburst. Jennifer’s passion for horses along with her challenging behaviour led to the school requesting support from Amelia Trust Farm.

Jennifer had a number of additional conditions that caused her difficulties therefore effecting her level of engagement in education and her quality of life. These conditions included dermatitis, epilepsy and cerebral palsy plus a number of allergies.  Physiotherapists hoped that the work completed at the Farm would develop Jennifer’s muscle tone, stamina and confidence.

Within the first term of attendance Jennifer was making excellent progress in her physical development and began to grow in confidence but was displaying signs of self-loathing which appeared to be due to the limitations caused by her cerebral palsy. Jennifer’s confidence in her self-image deteriorated rapidly leading to a period of self-harm. Jennifer’s mother shared her despair on a daily basis and felt unsupported by others with her daughter’s needs. Despite Jennifer’s difficulties she valued the guidance given by the Farm staff and battled on with her animal care routine in which she felt valued.

In attempt to enable Jennifer further the Farm arranged for her to be supported by an adult volunteer who also had cerebral palsy. The impact of this relationship proved to be significant as Jennifer could clearly see that her disorder did not stop her from completing a task. Jennifer reflected on her experience by saying:

“just because I can’t do a job the same way as others, it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it. I am actually finding it fun to work out how to do it! I love the face people pull when I push a wheelbarrow, I knew they thought I couldn’t do it!”

Unfortunately, Jennifer had been taken to hospital several times, however Jennifer refused to give up and attended every week as she was adamant that her seizures would not control her life. She commented:

“if the Farm hasn’t given up on me, then I won’t give up on it!”

Jennifer continues to make frequent visits to the Farm with her mother and is keen to tell the staff how well she is doing.

Young people with special educational needs (SEN) have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than other children of the same age. Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated seizures. Epilepsy is estimated to affect more than 500,000 people, 60,000 of them are children in the UK. This means that almost one in every 100 people has the condition. However, the condition can and does affect the lives of people with epilepsy, as well as their family and their friends. People with severe seizures that are resistant to treatment usually have shorter life expectancies and an increased risk of learning problems, especially if the seizures developed when they were young children. Having epilepsy can impact a career choice, a person’s living and recreational activities (e.g. bathing and swimming alone) and if having break through seizures, the ability to drive a vehicle since having a seizure while doing these things could create danger for the individual or others.

'Apparently I am difficult to teach.'

15 year old Rhydian began his placement at Amelia Trust Farm as he had been permanently excluded from school for aggressive and violent behaviour. A tailor-made package was created for Rhydian as part of an alternative curriculum since he had a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome which is similar to autism but young people tend to be higher functioning in comparison. His condition caused Rhydian to have delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialise with others, clearly communicate his feelings and use imagination.

Rhydian was initially apprehensive of the working environment at the Farm and tested the boundaries which resulted in staff having to manage a number of physically aggressive confrontations. Rhydian openly stated that

“apparently I am difficult to teach”

but he was unable to identify why. With time Rhydian engaged in his personal development sessions and began to put trust into the staff.

For the first time underlying issues regarding his childhood and his level of understanding regarding his condition came to the surface. The nurturing environment at the Farm helped Rhydian to feel safe but more importantly it helped him to understand that he was respected and that he was not the only young person who was going through a difficult time.

Rhydian was given the opportunity to extend his time at the Farm as long as he was able to accept the challenge of becoming a youth mentor for a group of students who were having difficulties with their behaviour. This pushed Rhydian to his limits and challenged him to analyse his own behaviour. His loyalty to the Farm got him through this experience and even though he found it extremely difficult it helped him to take an important step in his development.

Rhydian said a sad farewell to all at the Farm and successfully enrolled at a local agricultural college and is doing extremely well.

Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.8 million people every day. While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives. 34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on. 63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them. 17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools.

'He was totally lost... It really has changed his life.'

Noah was diagnosed with dyspraxia at the age of 7 and really struggled in High School where he was bullied. His mental health deteriorated and he was referred for specialist support but refused to speak to anyone.

Noah became so anxious that he would not leave his bedroom and started to receive out-of-school tuition but he would not engage with his tutor. He was referred to Amelia Trust Farm where he soon started to talk to staff about his issues. Noah’s mum can’t believe the difference in his self-confidence levels and commented:

“He was totally lost and would not leave the house but now he looks forward to coming to the Farm. He feels safe and it is such a lovely place to be. He has made friends and he has learned so much about the animals. It really has changed his life.”

'It is great to see our daughter back to her normal self, chatting with everyone.'

When Emily first came to the Farm in Sept 2018 she was suffering with high levels of anxiety. She had difficulty engaging in social situations and had completely withdrawn from the classroom environment.

At Amelia Trust Farm she has had the opportunity to develop within the therapeutic environment of the Farm. This environment has had a transformative effect and has helped Emily to manage her anxiety and increase her confidence levels and is pursuing her goal of studying art at College.

Knowing that as a small charity raising funds is a continual challenge, Emily has decided to donate all money she received for her 16th birthday.

Emily said:

“Amelia Trust Farm has helped me to make connections and communicate with people my age and adults.”

Emily’s mum commented:

“It is great to see our daughter back to her normal self, chatting with everyone.”

On leaving Amelia Trust Farm, Emily and her family sent a card with the words:

“When your darkest cloud looms and you can’t see the silver lining just remember in the distance the sun will still be shining and when it feels like the world’s turning to the beat of a different drum just remember to keep smiling…. the best is yet to come.”

Her mum said:

“Thank you to everyone who have helped, nurtured and given Emily the most amazing experience. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

'They were like the family I never had.'

Lucinda was a troubled young person referred when she was 14 due to the level of verbal and physical aggression she displayed towards her peers and staff members. Lucinda stayed at Amelia Trust Farm for 3 years whilst being moved to six different foster care provisions.

Prior to being placed in care, Lucinda was subject to emotional, physical and sexual abuse from her family. In Year 12 Lucinda was allowed to return home as the family circumstances had improved but in the past six months she has been made homeless twice due to the breakdown in communication with her family and the lack of support from other services.

At the beginning of Lucinda’s placement she displayed a high level of attention seeking behaviour and was extremely loud and provocative when communicating with others. This caused Lucinda to end up in confrontations with both staff and young people. Within two months Lucinda had settled into the project and was able to identify that the staff cared about her welfare, safety and security. After achieving both personally and academically Lucinda moved on to become an advocate for children who were in similar situations. On her last day Lucinda stated

“I am going to miss everyone at the Farm, they were like the family I never had.”

The NSPCC state that there are currently 93,000 children in care in the UK. Over 60% of children in care are looked after due to abuse and neglect. A small proportion of children in care experience further abuse and neglect whilst in care. 30% of children who return home are back in care within 5 years and children in care are less likely than their peers to do well at school.

GROW

What is the GROW programme?

The GROW Programme is a unique learning experience for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people at a critical time in their lives. Through a programme of support that is tailored to meet the needs of each individual, we help young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, many of whom think that society has given up on them.

Who do we help?

Some young people struggle in mainstream education. They may find a traditional classroom setting too intimidating because they have learning difficulties or disorders such as ADHD or autism. Others may be the victims of physical, mental or sexual abuse. There may be no positive role models in their lives and some have been moved around the care system. These young people feel anxious, lost and lonely. With low self-worth, lacking in confidence and basic communication skills, they have little motivation to engage in learning and often refuse to accept support from teachers, parents or carers. They think that society has given up on them and feel worthless and that life has nothing to offer them. Without the right type of care and support this highly vulnerable group enter adulthood without the life skills people need to cope let alone succeed.

How do we help?

By creating a positive, expressive and nurturing environment, our GROW programme helps young people to develop behavioural, emotional and social skills to enable them to be better equipped when regaining control of their lives. Our aim is to increase motivation and self-worth so that there is a greater willingness to re-engage with education and to get their lives back on the right path.

We help young people realise that there are alternatives to crime and drugs and that they have choices in their lives. We empower and motivate these hard-to-reach individuals to re-engage with learning and develop skills to help them succeed.
The GROW programme is based on a high level of pastoral care with the needs and welfare of the young people always top on our agenda. Having a child-centred approach in a farm setting provides a calming environment where young people feel safe and secure.

We immerse the young people in a multitude of vocational activities and experiences including therapeutic interventions in a number of different settings all based at the Farm.

Woodlands

Woodland, pond, dipping platform and bird hide

Resource Room

Indoor classroom and IT suite

Farm Shop

Retail environment in a therapeutic setting

Music Studio

Recording studio and live room

Sports Hall

5-a-side pitch, basketball and badminton courts

Gym

Cardiovascular machines and weights

Independent Living Centre

Kitchen, household equipment and classroom

Farming Environment

Animal shelters and fields

Carpentry Workshop

Production areas

Ampitheatre & Gardens

Green space with outdoor classroom

We can therefore use a range of different activities to re-engage the young person in learning. In particular, we find that animal assisted therapies help improve self-esteem and mood where individuals are feeling angry, depressed and tense. At the end of the programme we work in partnership with employers and educational settings to help with the young person’s transition into further education, training or employment.

Our staff are committed to providing a nurturing environment by considering the benefits of each activity and the importance of establishing productive relationships. All staff have received training from the Crisis Prevention Institute where the underpinning theme is care, welfare, safety and security. Our staff to young people ratios are always low and in some cases are 1:1 if the young person needs intensive support but usually 1:4.

We encourage individuals to express their feelings and needs in a social setting thereby helping them to develop their emotional intelligence. The Farm is open to the general public throughout the year and our young people share the public spaces with visitors to the Farm so they learn about acceptable social behaviour. In addition, we seek to educate the general public about the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable people and that we all should take responsibility to create caring, inclusive communities.

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