Case Study

JAMIE'S FARM

Thanks to the support of CAF Private Clients, Jamie's Farm's unique approach of 'farming, family and therapy' can equip vulnerable children to thrive.

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ABOUT JAMIE'S FARM

Jamie’s Farm is a charity that we are proud to support. One of our clients has supported the charity for a number of years and has been an integral part in helping Jamie purchase their second farm, in Hereford in 2014, alongside a planned purchase of a new farm in Sussex, due to launch in 2019. Having worked closely with the donor and Jamie's Farm, our Private Client team were honoured to visit the charity first-hand and to hear more about the work they do.

 

Jamie’s Farm, founded by teacher Jamie Feilden at his parents' farm near Bath in 2005, transforms the lives of vulnerable children in challenging urban schools. Jamie began by bringing lambs into local school playgrounds, to give children the chance to nurture animals and experience rewards and responsibilities that come with working on a farm, allowing the children to emotionally connect. The positive response from this enabled Jamie to run class visits to his home farm, whereby Jamie’s Farm then became a fully registered charity in 2009. 

Since then, Jamie’s Farm has built a reputation as a preventative solution to one of the most serious problems affecting vulnerable children and society today: social and academic exclusion. Jamie’s Farm addresses the root causes of exclusion by equipping vulnerable children to thrive during their secondary school years. Their programme also develops soft skills in young people so that they realise their own potential and take control of their futures. This is achieved via a unique five-day residential programme that draws together their three core principles: farming, family and therapy, ultimately aiming to boost self-esteem, improve behaviour and increase engagement at school, as all three are intrinsically linked to social and academic exclusion.

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OUR VISIT TO JAMIE'S FARM

Having battled the M25 and M4, we arrived at Jamie’s Farm near Bath at 11am, where we were greeted by the beautiful view of the countryside. As we walked into the farm, we were met by Jamie in the courtyard, alongside a new volunteer who will be helping Jamie’s Farm with their fundraising.

We sat down for a cup of coffee and Jamie explained the story of how he started Jamie’s Farm. Growing up on a farm with his parents originally, Jamie decided to become a teacher and went on to study at the University of Edinburgh. He joined a school in Croydon, teaching History, whilst also working at the ‘Teach First’ programme within the recruitment team.

During this period, Jamie took some pupils from his school in Croydon to his parents' farm, for the children to experience farm life and nature. Proving a success, Jamie continued to work on the farm for a number of years in the school holidays and weekends, whilst maintaining his day job in the week.

SUPPORTING SCHOOLS

Jamie’s Farm works in partnership with schools who bring groups of students, predominantly those between year 7 and 11, to experience their unique residential, at one of their three livestock farms near Bath (HQ), Hereford and Monmouth. Children and their accompanying teachers are supported beyond the residential, in making the right steps to change track, and the Jamie’s Farm follow up programme sees that schools, teachers, parents and support workers are engaged in the child’s journey. Follow up sessions take place in schools, or for London schools at the charity’s city farm in Waterloo – a half acre plot in the heart of the city, abundant with farm activity, food production, as well as pigs and lambs in residence, visiting from the more rural farms. The Jamie’s Farm programme is also highly regarded within schools as an immersive and invaluable opportunity for continued professional development, equipping teachers with the tools to work with their most vulnerable students back in school. 

MEASURING THE IMPACT

We were introduced to Jake Curtis, Director of Programmes and Operations, who explained how they meet schools, to discuss the programme and the benefit the children will receive from their experience at Jamie’s Farm. Jake works closely with schools to help measure the impact of the programme, by visiting the school a few weeks before their planned visit to evaluate the pupils attending by studying their behaviours and exclusions. After the programme, Jake returns to the school to re-evaluate the pupil’s behaviour and engagement at school, working with teachers to help them re-engage with their pupils also.  

We then met Toby Meanwell, Farm Manager at Lower Wernddu in Hereford, who gave us a tour of the farm and showed us the gardens where the children were planting seeds and picking fruit and vegetables to cook later. We saw sheep, pigs and cattle that the children rear, as well as horses. While the pupils cannot ride the horses, they can walk them around the paddock; Toby explained that a horse will mirror your mood and actions, and therefore if you are calm, the horse will be calm too. This allows the children to confront their own behaviours and learn to trust and self reflect.  

Increasingly, the Jamie’s Farm therapeutic approach is recognised as an example of best practice within the education sector. The UK’s leading progressive think tank, The Institute for Public Policy Research, published a report in October 2017 in conjunction with The Difference, revealing an excluded child costs taxpayers £370,000 over the child’s lifetime (per child). The Jamie’s Farm therapeutic approach is included within their findings as one of four best practice models of alternative provision within the UK to tackle this. The charity’s monitoring and evaluation shows that of all the children at risk of exclusion before a visit to their farm, 68% are no longer at risk six weeks on, with evidence at six months showing that the changes children make are sustained and even improved.

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The next part of the tour was log cutting and stacking, as the farm has a biomass boiler which supplies energy to the farm. We were asked if we would like to have a go at chopping wood with an axe, in which we happily accepted. Toby demonstrated how it should be done and explained that this activity shows the children that they are trusted by allowing them to use an axe, and teaches them not to give up if the wood doesn’t spilt on first chop. After failing to split the wood the first time, it was easy to understand the learning objectives of the task. 

We then sat down with the staff and children for a delicious lunch of home grown food; including salads, quiche and many other delights prepared and cooked by the children. We spoke to the children about their morning and asked if they were enjoying their stay; they all gave positive responses. Finally, after lunch, everyone around the table had to rate the day so far on a scale of one to ten, give a shout out to a person who has done something good, and discuss what they have learnt and felt about that learning. This is to encourage the children to try and feel comfortable in sharing their feelings and understanding their behaviours.

Finally, it was time to leave the farm and head back. We would like to say a big thank you to Jamie and his team for making our team feel so welcome and for sharing their passion and commitment to help these vulnerable children.  

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