A safe space for people with learning difficulties and autism – Wessex Water

Wessex Water

Since 2016, Able Hands Together has been supporting adults and children with learning difficulties and autism across Wiltshire. We’ve provided the charity with a grant from the Wessex Water Foundation to help it employ a support worker.

We spoke with Laura Tween, who is the Founder of Able Hands Together, to find out more.

Tell us more about Able Hands Together!

We specialise in reducing anxiety by using animals and green space to create a tranquil, safe and nurturing environment for our visitors. Our journey began at River Bourne Community Farm in 2016, but we relocated to Little Wishford Farm, just outside of Salisbury, in 2020 to better support the people we work with.

What is the charity’s aim?

Our primary aim is to provide safe, accessible and life-changing long-term opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autism. We call them our ‘Co-Farmers’ and teach them transferable social and employability skills to aid development and independence.

Why did you start Able Hands Together?

I started Able Hands Together because my family all have different neurodiversity, with ADHD, autism and dyslexia being the main ones. I could see there was a gap in services and education provision for people that think and respond differently. Some environments are inaccessible for people with autism, so we wanted to create an environment where we could nurture emotional resilience and create job opportunities.

What services are offered at the farm?

We offer three main services at our farm, including social care for adults, alternative education for children who find being in a traditional education setting difficult, and hospitality training and employment opportunities.

Has demand for your services increased in recent years?

Following the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw the demand for our services increase by 150% with new referrals coming in daily. We are expanding to meet this demand to make sure local people receive the support they need!

How will our funding support your charity?

The funding we have received from Wessex Water will help us to employ a support worker who will open the café on our farm at weekends. The grant will help the café to become financially viable so that we can create more meaningful employment opportunities for people who may struggle to get roles elsewhere.

Find out more at ablehandstogether.org.uk

More information about our funding opportunities can be found at wessexwater.co.uk/funding

Our Services

Speech & Language Support

Speech & Language Support

Speech & Language Support

We do, of course, welcome verbal and non-verbal Co-Farmers. Makaton is used at the farm where needed, and communication boards with PECS or photographs are also available. We aim to be a centre of excellence for communication.

Promoting Independance

Promoting Independance

Promoting Independance

With 20 years experience enabling the independence of adults with learning difficulties, the staff at Able Hands will ensure that Co-Farmers are learning new skills that will be transferable to their home and social life.

Virtually Together

Positive Risk Taking

Virtually Together

"Virtually Together" is our answer to the UK's social distancing measures during lockdown, we have already seen the positive effects our group video chats and online coaching have had on many of our clients.

Our Little World

Our little world

Our little world

Browse through our unique photo and video gallery of life on the farm and our Co-Farmers at work. We update this regularly, so be sure to come back! We also have a YouTube channel called Able Hands Together, be sure to subscribe to our channel for updates on our videos.