Children with limited mobility can now make full use of The Children’s Centre Community Farm, thanks to help from the Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust.
The Centre operates the Community Farm on Douglas Head, providing a nurturing and therapeutic environment which helps young people develop whilst connecting with the countryside. It is open to the community, and used not only by The Children Centre and its clients, but also by primary and secondary schools from across the Island. Research has shown spending time in such an environment has positive impacts on physical health and mental well-being,
However, there are some areas of the farm which cannot be accessed by people with limited mobility, meaning they are unable to take advantage of the full range of services on offer. The Children’s Centre turned to the Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust for help in purchasing an all-terrain wheelchair and was presented with a grant of £12,000, enough to buy the specialist equipment and have it adapted to meet local needs.
Not only will this improve access to the Farm for children with limited mobility, it will also allow parents and families affected by disability to enjoy more of the Farm’s facilities with the children.
The Children’s Centre’s Chief Executive John Knight explained: “The research paper ‘Care farming in the UK: Evidence and Opportunities’ supports the physical, mental health and social outcomes that we have seen at the Community Farm, all of which help contribute to the prevention of ill health. It says such farms have seen improvements to physical health as well as improved self-esteem, well-being and mood; and increased self-confidence, trust in other people and calmness. Social benefits reported include independence, formation of a work habit, the development of social skills and personal responsibility.
“The Community Farm uniquely offers the collection of these benefits to groups and individuals in the Isle of Man that are able to engage with this opportunity; an experience that starts as soon as people arrive and breathe in the fresh air and take in the inspiring views, an experience that has a positive impact on their personal and social development.
“We have widened the groups of people that are able to enjoy the open countryside and all that the Farm has to offer to include people with physical, mental health and learning disabilities. We have developed access to the Farm for people with disabilities by creating paved walkways and raised beds and, most recently, we have built a toilet and wet room that can be used by visitors to the Farm who are in wheelchairs.”
Farm Manager Chrissy Cannell continued: “There are some areas it is not possible or environmentally feasible to lay paths. One is our Conservation Area, situated 500 metres away from the Farm down a rough track. We are transforming this five acre rough, windswept, largely wet field into an area that can be fully utilised to connect users of the Community Farm with nature.
“We are gradually developing a place sheltered by trees and hedging with copses and secret spinneys, hiding places and ‘dry teaching zones’ with areas for bush craft, pond dipping and bug hunts. There will be spaces to sit and be comfortably still and wild areas where imaginations can run wild and free.
“For people with a mobility disability this area is not currently accessible. We wanted to purchase an all-terrain wheel chair so more people could be part of this development and reap the benefits that this would bring.”
The specialist all-terrain wheelchair arrived in the Island in early September and was quickly put into use at the Farm.
Mr Knight said: “The Children’s Centre has been overwhelmed by the support of the Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust, which recognised the value of what we are doing and the further benefits it could have, and enabled us to purchase this all-terrain wheelchair. It represents a substantial financial investment, but is also a valuable investment in the work we do and the future of those previously unable to make full use of the Community Farm.”
Trust Chairman Larry Keenan added: “The work of The Children’s Centre is well-known throughout the Island, and what has been achieved at the Community Farm, for the whole community, is exceptional.
“There is no doubt the Community Farm has brought recognised benefits for the young people who make use of it, some 80 a week, and there is a lot of work being done to improve services even further. We are proud to be able to support this work by ensuring all of the benefits offered by the services at the Farm are available to a broader range of people, including those with mobility limitations.
“The purchase of equipment like this all-terrain wheelchair represents a significant financial investment for a charity such as The Children’s Centre, but the potential value to our community and the physical and emotional health of our young people is immeasurable.”
The Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust funds equipment, training, research, education and health promotion to help improve the standard of healthcare in the Isle of Man and the quality of life for sick, infirm and disabled people in hospital, care-settings or their own homes. It was established in 1888 by renowned Island benefactor Henry Bloom Noble with the ambition of improving the quality of healthcare in the Island.
The Henry Bloom Noble Healthcare Trust relies on donations and bequests from the public. If you would like to support the Trust, visit the website www.hbnhealthcaretrust.org.im, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 616108.