Catalysing change in the countryside

Elise Austin | 08.07.15

At Jamie’s Farm in Herefordshire, the second project from the team behind the hugely successful Hill House Farm in Wiltshire, many young people experience the country for the very first time. The project is designed to give children from tough urban schools, often at risk of exclusion, the chance to experience life of a working farm whilst receiving careful support and mentoring. The Jamie’s Farm model has seen remarkable success. Following a week on the farm, 82% of young people have fewer behavioural difficulties on their return to school and 70% show an improved ability to form relationships.

Along with Frances and Aidan from St James’s Place Foundation, I met a group of young girls from an inner city Birmingham school at the mid-point of their stay. Before we knew it, we were getting stuck into farm life: horse whispering, pizza making, landscaping and pig-pen hemming. One young person told me that the best thing about Jamie’s Farm was the supportive staff who weren’t pushy, but expected you to try hard. And you did.

A well-deserved lunch was served at the huge kitchen table whilst the group swapped stories of their mornings and applauded others for their accomplishments. Having been aware of a small episode between a couple of disgruntled young women earlier in the day, it was lovely to hear them thank each other and the farm staff for turning the day around.

The kitchen is a fundamental part of Jamie’s model that helps create a home from home feeling. A large map hangs over the kitchen table, where children are busy pondering the riddles and trivia questions set by the staff. LandAid and St James’s Place Foundation are proud to be supporting the development of a former storage barn in order to create a larger space for these types of interactions to take place.

Jamie Fielden, the farm’s founder and name-sake, helped us work off the pizza lunch with a tour of the Georgian farmhouse which has been converted into accommodation for twelve young people, thanks to funding from LandAid and St James’s Place Foundation. The welcoming, cosy environment seemed to have been perfectly designed for weary heads after long days on the farm.

The restorative and transformative statistics speak for themselves and we are so pleased to be able to play a part in the development of this impressive model.

Charity visits take place throughout the year and are free to attend for all Foundation Partner staff. Find out more.