The statistics show an increasing problem – 35 children are excluded from school every day; only 1% of these get five good GCSEs needed for employment; 1 in 2 have a mental health problem, and the majority will make up the prison population.
During their lifetime, an excluded child will cost the taxpayer at the very least £370,000.
Jamie’s Farm, is an education charity set up by an ex-teacher and his psychotherapist mother, whose fundamental belief is that children are good. Through a 5-day residential stay at one of their farms, children and their teachers are immersed in a powerful blend of Farming, Family and Therapy. The week and in-school follow-up, is proven to draw out new behaviours and attitudes with a lasting impact.
During 2018, 1,180 disadvantaged children benefitted from Jamie’s Farm. So far of those at risk of exclusion, 75% no longer were 6 months after visiting the Farm. For almost 10 years now, Jamie’s Farm has delivered its programme to 5,600 vulnerable children.
Demand from schools has seen the programme grow from their first farm near Bath, to Herefordshire (est. 2015) and Monmouth (est. 2018).
Last Thursday I visited the latest Jamie’s Farm which will be welcoming children aged 11 – 16, in April 2019. This farm not a stone’s throw from Plumpton Agricultural College, will serve schools and communities along the South Coast.
A more typical Sussex family farm with its cosy farmhouse and useful outbuildings you could not find. Allington Farm is the perfect place for troubled children to spend time learning about nature, farming, kindness, security and most importantly themselves.
This formerly mixed farm, which has now been put down entirely to grass with help from Mike Martin their neighbouring farmer, will be populated mainly with sheep and Aberdeen Angus cattle. They will be joined by ponies, pigs, ducks and chickens, amongst other livestock adding to the menagerie.
The children attending the 5-day farm residential and in-school follow up programme, targets those who have been referred by their schools for poor behaviour, low self-esteem and a lack of engagement at school. Accompanied by their teachers, they come in groups of 10-12 and live on site with the Jamie’s Farm team.
In a single day a young person may feed and muck out the pigs before breakfast, chop some logs during the morning session, harvest vegetables and prepare dinner as their afternoon project, go on a 4 mile evening walk and then deliver a lamb after supper.
Jamie who addressed the gathering last week, assured us that if nothing else the children slept very well at night!
All of this is punctuated with therapeutic support one-to-one with a trained therapist, and in-group discussions built around positive praise.
Funding for the charity as a whole is mainly made up of grants from grant-making trusts and foundations; individual fundraising events; a significant legacy which enabled the purchase of two of the farms; and generating income from farm activity.
The aim is to make the farms as self-sufficient as possible, developing opportunities to raise money through the sale of produce, and letting the farm houses between visiting school groups. Schools make a contribution towards their visits but the charity actively fund raises to make up the shortfall, so that visits are affordable and costs are not prohibitive. They aim to reach as many vulnerable children as possible.
This children’s charity, now in the heart of Sussex, is warmly welcomed by the farming community, and deserves support. www.jamiesfarm.org.uk
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New year.