Opened in 2015! Work started on the barn in 2012, when it was re-roofed; had a new rear wall plus additional side ones; electricity – power & light installed; and water laid on. However, we then ran out of funds! We still need to lay a concrete base, construct internal walls, put up a front wall with two garage doors & two stable doors and fit it out with units to enable a covered working area for such activities as carpentry (repairing animal houses; building planters; constructing new frames for hives, etc). In addition it is to house the hay store, the tractor shed, the ponies & alpacas tack room plus general garden tools and animal feed storage. The quotation for work still to be done is £10,000. We have £4,000 of donations and grants dedicated to it. We’ve been given £2,500 of new units & doors. Under a corporate responsibility initiative, a multi-national company is considering laying the concrete floor for us at either no charge or for just the cost of materials. We are therefore hopeful that we only need to raise £3,000 to compete the work. Very many thanks – particularly to Howdens who donated a wide range of units with which to fit it out.
We plan to continue the now well established programmed of 14 children/young people attending each week, working with them on a predominately one-to-one basis. Existing and future attendees will continue to visit for half a day (occasionally two half days) per week. Each continues to attend for as long as it is deemed beneficial to them. This is not only until they’ve gained confidence and a sense of self-worth but also until they’ve learnt how to work with others, overcome frustrations, face up to, indeed welcome challenges and gain other such social and practical skills that will enable them to secure useful employment and participate in society. We feel we’ve been successful and our our objectives met when we’ve introduced a youngster to a way of life that they enjoy, a caring and nurturing love of working with animals and knowledge that through dedication anything is achievable. See “Case Studies”. We are currently at full complement and have a waiting list of seven children. We have considered increasing the number of assistants to work with the children but have decided that we only should do this on a limited basis because our strength is is in the stability and continuity provided by the same personnel and in the perceived exclusiveness of the facilities on offer. However, unavoidable the situation may be, too often there are too many unsettling changes of key people in children’s lives and insufficient opportunity to provide them with the sole attention they seek. Keeping our personnel to two key people and numbers of attendees small, enables us to provide those key elements.
Referrals from and working with Merristwood College
Links have been forged with several of the College’s departments and reciprocal arrangements are planned for the future. These will include our providing work experience placements in our commercial cattery for their students and our children being given access to visit the more exotic creatures that are cared for at the College. We are able to provide facilities for College students who do not thrive in a classroom environment and the College may provide a benefit to us by using our grounds for general training purposes.
Our converted and extended stable (completed 2013) will continue to provide the focal point for relaxation; where morning & afternoon refreshment breaks and lunch times can be spent. This has fully fitted kitchen & bathroom facilities plus sitting room, which also houses various of our exotic smaller animals. This facility now enables children to comfortably camp in the field as the Cabin’s facilities are adjacent to it. This has already proven most successful in enabling children gain a sense of independence in a safe and secure environment. This activity will be expanded to enable more children to participate each year.
This facility, built by volunteers in 2013, will continue to provide the most useful space for growing some fruit & vegetables in it and for raising others ready for transplanting in the vegetable garden. It has proven most useful to be able to garden under cover during extremely inclement weather!
Pond, Bog Garden/Bio-diversity Habitat & Vista Point
Created in 2013, the pond is now well established with frogs, newts and visiting wild fowl; the vista-point has grassed over and wild flowers are beginning to establish themselves. Current and future plans are to continue with the clearance of grass and nettles from the bog area and for us to introduce more colourful inhabitants that will have a long flowering season, so keeping our bees supplied with much needed pollen & nectar.
Eight trees were planted in 2012 (cherry, pear, medlar, plum and several varieties of apple). It is hoped that by judicious care the trees will remain small enough for children to be able to reach the fruit and that there will be sufficient produced to enable us to increase our home produce for sale. We all enjoy making jams and jellies
We are now in our second 5-year Business Plan, the first having been for 2008 – 2013. This, in addition to having undergone a most thorough Board scrutiny was also independently vetted by Surrey Business and Social Enterprise Adviser. The Key Performance Indicators continue to evolve as we scrutinise an increasing number of “outcomes”. Initial performance is based on the number of days that children attend and how our Income and Expenditure projections mirror that growth.
“Make light of difficulties and they will disappear”