Joel James MS Senedd Member for South Wales Central last week visited the Amelia Farm Trust near Barry to hear about their GROW programme, which provides a unique experience for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people at a critical time in their lives.
He heard how some young people struggle in mainstream education because they find a traditional classroom setting too intimidating. Those with learning difficulties or disorders such as ADHD or autism, or, those who may be victims of physical, mental or sexual abuse often feel anxious, lost and lonely. This can trigger feelings of low self-esteem and poor confidence which stops them engaging in learning, and rejecting support from teachers, parents or carers.
Joel was very pleased to see how Amelia Farm trust provides a new and different learning experience in a farm setting which helps young people to develop their behavioural, emotional and social skills. This positive, expressive and nurturing environment helps to increase motivation and self-worth so that there is a greater willingness to re-engage with education and to get their lives back on the right path.
The farm has a wide range of animals that need caring for, including chickens, donkeys and goats and through the calming environment and the experience of looking after these animals, young people come to realise that there are alternatives to crime and drugs and that they have choices in their lives.
Karen Turnbull, manager of the Amelia Farm Trust has said “Joel’s visit was a great opportunity to show how the high level of pastoral care and welfare we provide for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people can empower and motivate these hard-to-reach individuals to re-engage with learning and develop skills to help them succeed. 93% of young people on placement in 2019 moved on to education, training or employment which is a remarkable success.”
Joel further commented after the visit “It is extraordinary what The Amelia Farm Trust has accomplished, and the dedication of people like Karen and her team is an inspiration. The farm is open to the public and I would urge everyone to pay a visit. Everyone should be given the opportunity to make the best of their lives and I believe that providing opportunities like this are essential for those who struggle in traditional school settings.”