Laura Tween runs Able Hands Together, a farm based in Wishford, where co-farmers (adults with learning difficulties) can work with animals and learn to be independent.
The farm helps the co-farmers become independent and gives them confidence, but Laura wanted to offer more. “Mencap research states that only 6% of people with a learning disability, who are known to the Local Authority are in paid employment,” said Laura. “I had this vision of running events so that the co-farmers could help and be paid for their work. I am so excited to announce that we have received a grant of over £10,000 from ESFA and EST to train up 10 clients.”
“The events company is called Blossom Together. The grant enables us to run a 20-week training course for our co-farmers. At the end they will have skills that will enable them to help organise birthday parties, weddings and afternoon teas on the farm. Not only will the co-farmers gain confidence but we will raise funds for the farm.”
“Our participants have never had the opportunity for paid employment. Blossom Together will provide employment but be mindful of their benefits system and ensure they suffer no financial detriment, which is often a significant barrier.
“Dr Michael Francis Pollin, researcher and consultant in education is in charge of the course. He has joined the Able Hands Together team to help fulfill their innovative vision. He will be training the co-farmers in: waitressing, how to be a kitchen assistant, customer services, how to record how many guests attend an event and planning how the event will be organised. It might also be practical things that are needed before or after the actual event like working on the flower farm and arranging the flowers or a caretaker role mending equipment and making sure the farm is ready for visitors by mowing the grass and setting out chairs and tables.”
The first events the co-farmers will be working on is an afternoon tea on July 30, and an Able Hands Farm open day on July 31. “Come and visit the farm and see what we do here, meet the Co Farmers, staff and say hello to the animals!” suggested Laura. “There will be stalls selling food, local artisan products, tea and cakes. We will also be launching our new Gin Bar selling various cocktails.”
Able Hands Together works closely with other social care providers, South Wilts Mencap and Adult Services, and Alabare and will welcome new people to come and join the course.
Afternoon Tea – July 30
Able Hands Farm Open Day – July 31