Lawrence Weston Community Farm

Bristol, UK

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We paid a visit to Lawrence Weston Community Farm to capture the impact that a small charity can have, given the right tools and support.

It is proven that staying active, taking up new skills, and feeling connected to your community, are key for wellbeing.

That is what Lawrence Weston Community Farm wants its volunteers, many who have mental health issues or who feel isolated, to experience.

Based just outside of Bristol city centre, in an isolated area of the city where many local residents experience multiple deprivation, the farm works to provide a supportive environment where people from all walks of life can contribute to their community, gain accredited training, participate in social activities and groups and benefit from the therapeutic value of looking after animals and growing produce.

The charity has only three full-time members of staff, so relies heavily on the availability of its volunteers.

But despite its small size, the work at LWCF is far-reaching, ranging from young children, to corporate employees, adult placements, volunteers and pensioners; all who get stuck in and learn a range of skills, including looking after pigs, sheep, goats, ducks and chickens.

CAF's work with the farm

Our advisory team worked with the community farm to develop its corporate donor strategy through a partnership with Lloyd’s Bank Foundation. Lloyd’s had supported the farm with a grant over three years and as part of that support they also funded our work.

The farm had already identified the need to generate more income from corporate sponsors. Like many small charities, they had found obtaining grants increasingly difficult. As general manager Paul Jayson tells us: “there are more charities springing up every year and there is less grant funding available”.

CAF's advisory manager James Moon worked closely with the charity over a two month period to develop a bespoke plan to support its development and longevity.

Speaking about the partnership with CAF, Paul said: “working with CAF was a genuine partnership. James was very knowledgeable and he was asking all the right questions. He learnt about us, went away and reflected and fed back to us”.

The charity has already implemented several of CAF’s suggestions. One of which was to expand their offer to corporate groups to come down and volunteer. “We’ve introduced a range of new activities to these groups” Paul explains, “we can now go to corporate groups with a product say this will help you deliver your CSR objectives, we’d like you to buy it from us – and they have”.

Advice for other small charities

Following the work with CAF, Paul has some advice for other small charities considering this type of assistance: “you do have to accept it will take up some of your time, but our experience is that through our partnership with CAF that time has been incredibly well spent. It’s helped us to head off in the right direction and it gave us all a boost of energy which we all needed”.

As the farm looks to build on this work to support its future, Paul finishes by explaining why this is so important, “the positive impact that we have had is phenomenal. People come to us with varied issues, with some facing social exclusion and others who are dealing with mental health problems. And I have seen the extent to which our facility has helped to actually save lives – you really can’t get any better than that.” 

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