What is the GROW Programme?
The GROW Programme is a unique learning experience for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people at a critical time in their lives. Through a programme of support that is tailored to meet the needs of each individual, we help young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, many of whom think that society has given up on them.
Who do we help?
Some young people struggle in mainstream education. They may find a traditional classroom setting too intimidating because they have learning difficulties or disorders such as ADHD or autism. Others may be the victims of physical, mental or sexual abuse. There may be no positive role models in their lives and some have been moved around the care system. These young people feel anxious, lost and lonely. With low self-worth, lacking in confidence and basic communication skills, they have little motivation to engage in learning and often refuse to accept support from teachers, parents or carers. They think that society has given up on them and feel worthless and that life has nothing to offer them. Without the right type of care and support this highly vulnerable group enter adulthood without the life skills people need to cope let alone succeed.
How do we help?
By creating a positive, expressive and nurturing environment, our GROW programme helps young people to develop behavioural, emotional and social skills to enable them to be better equipped when regaining control of their lives. Our aim is 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.
We help young people realise that there are alternatives to crime and drugs and that they have choices in their lives. We empower and motivate these hard-to-reach individuals to re-engage with learning and develop skills to help them succeed. The GROW programme is based on a high level of pastoral care with the needs and welfare of the young people always top on our agenda. Having a child-centred approach in a farm setting provides a calming environment where young people feel safe and secure.
We immerse the young people in a multitude of vocational activities and experiences including therapeutic interventions in a number of different settings all based at the Farm:
• Farming Environment – Animal shelters and fields• Woodlands – Woodland, pond, dipping platform and bird hide• Farm Shop – retail environment in a therapeutic setting• Carpentry Workshop – production areas• Sports Hall – 5 a side pitch, basketball and badminton courts• Gym – Cardiovascular machines and weights• Independent Living Centre – Kitchen, household equipment and classroom• Resource Room – indoor classroom and IT suite• Music Studio – Recording studio and live room• Amphitheatre and Gardens – Green space with outdoor classroom
We can therefore use a range of different activities to re-engage the young person in learning. In particular, we find that animal assisted therapies help improve self-esteem and mood where individuals are feeling angry, depressed and tense. At the end of the programme we work in partnership with employers and educational settings to help with the young person’s transition into further education, training or employment.
Our staff are committed to providing a nurturing environment by considering the benefits of each activity and the importance of establishing productive relationships. All staff are trained in MAPA (Managing Actual or Potential Aggression) techniques where the underpinning theme is care, welfare, safety and security. Our staff to young people ratios are always low and in some cases are 1:1 if the young person needs intensive support but usually 1:4.
We encourage individuals to express their feelings and needs in a social setting thereby helping them to develop their emotional intelligence. The Farm is open to the general public throughout the year and our young people share the public spaces with visitors to the Farm so they learn about acceptable social behaviour. In addition, we seek to educate the general public about the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable people and that we all should take responsibility to create caring, inclusive communities.