Plans for animal therapy farm at Chailey charity

Chailey pupil enjoying a therapy session with visiting animals. SUS-160825-152808001
Chailey pupil enjoying a therapy session with visiting animals. SUS-160825-152808001

A troop of four legged friends will soon be setting up home at Chailey Heritage Foundation, as the pioneering disability and educational charity announces its plans to build a new animal therapy centre.

Named Patchwork Farm, the fully accessible, wheelchair friendly facility will be built on land at the charity’s Sussex HQ and be home initially to goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens.

Growing research has shown the therapeutic benefits children with special educational needs and disabilities get from working with animals, and Patchwork Farm aims to support the 220 children and young adults that use Chailey’s educational, life skills, residential and day care facilities.

Organisers are now calling on the public, schools, community groups and businesses to get behind the scheme and help raise the £55,000 needed to build the farm, and put their name down to volunteer at Patchwork once it opens.

Paula Marten, Head of Chailey’s Hanbury department, said: “We are so excited about bringing Patchwork Farm to our youngsters.

“The interaction with animals will help build their self-confidence and boost their learning, while providing them with a truly multi-sensory environment as they experience new sights, sounds, smells and textures.

“It will also be used to help deliver life skills and independence courses and in the long term we aim to open it up to the wider disabled community, including pupils from other special schools, as well as mainstream classrooms.”

Chailey Heritage Foundation is recognised as one of the UK’s leading centres for children and young adults with neurological and motor conditions and supports families across Sussex, Surrey, Kent, the Home Counties and London.

The charity already has a strong track record of bringing therapeutic experiences into education and currently offers therapeutic pony riding sessions, which have had a demonstrable effect on pupils’ learning and wellbeing.

“Donations are already starting to come in but more are needed to help us get this brilliant new scheme up and running,” Paula added.

“Anyone interested in volunteering at Patchwork Farm is also encouraged to get in touch.”

Volunteers should be friendly, understanding, like children, have the time to make a regular commitment, and be in general good health.

To donate or get involved with the Patchwork Farm appeal visit www.chf.org.uk/patchwork and for more details about volunteering call Kerrie Smart-Jones on 01825 724444.