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Project gets down on the farm to help families

A PROJECT which helps rebuild families by getting them to spend time together in the countryside has been given funding from the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner.

Longmead Community Farm works with families who are in crisis, such as those whose children are at risk of being taken into care or not completing their schooling.

Families spend 24 hours on the farm, near Bere Regis, and work together on activities from mucking out stables and looking after animals to picking vegetables which they then use to make their own meals.

Project manager Claire Crescent said: “It’s hard work, but there’s a lot of games involved, and they always have a good time. This isn’t a parenting class, but it’s about encouraging families to spend time together and enjoy being with each other again.

“We’re all about helping bring people together and communicate better. We find a lot of parents come back and say they’ve realised that they can have fun with their children again. When families are in crisis they often spend their whole time arguing, but coming to the farm gives them the space to take a step back and talk to each other.”

Families will often make return visits to the farm every two months, and Claire says they often notice an improvement over the course of the year.

They are often referred to the service from social services, as part of a wider package of support, and are in contact with a range of other groups.

The project received funding from the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Dorset Fund Community Grants scheme at the start of this year, which has enabled them to organise more activities at the farm.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “We need to find innovative approaches to help people in crisis. The psychological benefits of spending time in the countryside are well known and Longmead does an excellent job of helping families tap into these benefits before more serious problems occur.”

The scheme, which provides grants of between £100 and £3,000, has been set up to fund voluntary and community groups that provide a benefit to the residents of Dorset.

Anyone who is interested in applying for a grant should go here for more information.

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