Behind the Scenes - The Hayshed Experience, Fowl Green Farm in Whitby
PUBLISHED: 11:56 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:56 07 July 2014
Disabled people learn new skills at a farm-based education centre near Whitby
Lucy Muir is a remarkable woman running a remarkable scheme to help disabled people realise their potential. She helps create new work opportunities on the family farm near Whitby which are life changing.
The Hayshed Experience is a working farm where people come first. Its primary objective is to create opportunities for and improve attitudes towards disabled people. ‘We try to show other people - the general pubic - that disabled people shouldn’t be written off,’ said Lucy who is wheelchair bound herself.
She launched the scheme as a result of her own experience attempting to find permanent work. She is degree educated but could only find temporary work. ‘Every job I applied for I was always second, never quite got the job,’ said Lucy.
Her father had already successfully introduced holiday cottages on the farm so diversification wasn’t something new for the Muir family. Lucy’s plan to create an education centre where disabled people could learn new skills and train for real jobs seemed like a very good idea.
The scheme took off immediately and has attracted the support and encouragement of the Prince’s Countryside Fund. ‘We deliver a wide range of formal training and work experience placements for disabled adults to enable them to learn new skills, enjoy new experiences and, we hope, develop a deeper understanding of their own skills and abilities.
Lucy has the support of farm operations manager Robin Asquith and three team leaders, Charlene Miris, Sally Sansom and Rachel Avery who work with three or four trainees at any one time.
‘We use agriculture, horticulture and forestry to help develop skills; our farm provides a wonderful range of informal and formal learning and development opportunities as well as being able to provide diverse employment potential.
‘Working on the farm gives structure and routine for the trainees, through daily tasks that need to be completed such as feeding all our livestock each morning. The trainees work with the animals from birth to death; they learn the correct feeds and quantities of feed for the different animals, they are involved in animal welfare routines such as cleaning out chickens and trimming sheep’s feet, and develop skills in handling animals from day old chicks to sheep and lambs to highland cattle.’
Lucy said she has seen encouraging change in trainees as they tackle tasks they thought they could never attempt. ‘I’ve stepped back and watched – seen people planting for example, and doing it really well. They would, more than likely, never have been given that chance before.
‘We want to provide as many real opportunities as possible for disabled people who are as capable as any other. We are all put here for a purpose and that purpose is helping other people.’
The Hayshed Experience, Fowl Green Farm, Commondale, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 2HN
Walk a Country Mile
Two walks to raise awareness of the countryside and projects like the Hayshed Experience take place on Fowl Green Farm on Saturday, July 19th. The first one will be a family/ little legs nature trail and the second is for those more experienced walkers who want to get up onto the moors. The walks will be followed by a cream tea.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund is asking businesses, community groups, villages, families and individuals to walk together in appreciation of the countryside and how we can support those who live and work there.
For more information go to princescountrysidefund.org.uk