Just as the tulips and daffodils have been blossoming here over the last couple of months, our trainees have also been enthusiastically springing back to their usual farm duties.
At the start of December, just as we were getting back into the swing of farm life and even wondering if we would be able to hold a little Christmas party, our trainees had to stay home once again as the Farm went back into lockdown. Heading into the winter meant that there was less for the staff to keep on top of – the gardens were sleepy and there were no baby animals, so some of us were furloughed, leaving a skeleton crew and an eerily quiet farm.
Supporting people remotely
We knew the short, dark days would be so much more difficult for everyone though. We’d been grateful for the spring weather in the first lockdown, aware that it had made that shocking time a little bit easier. So, we decided to do our best to try to support everyone remotely. We phoned everyone at least weekly, hosted group video calls so trainees could catch up with friends, sent vlogs to keep everyone up to date with what we’re up to, and even visited some people with farm produce, where it was safe to do so – and it really got our imaginations going.
Our woodwork project support worker, Rocio, shone. She made regular activity packs to send to our trainees in a variety of subjects close to our hearts, including animal and plant identification, and healthy eating. We started to get wonderful feedback. People began to send us photos of the things they had made such as calendars, and even the results of recipes they had followed. We loved them! Each new email or message would be shared among the staff and they helped us feel closer to the people we were missing.
Across Brandon, people we support found a variety of ways to promote wellbeing and keep entertained. From home pubs and learning to cook risotto, to getting crafty and creative with their own gardens and woodwork projects. There were regular updates in our regular staff newsletters – it was both amazing, and humbling, to see how people were adapting and rising to the challenge of another lockdown.
We are now almost back to full capacity here on the Farm, with a feeling of new hope as the weather warms, more people are vaccinated, the gardens blossom, and another generation of animals are born. We are again, delighted to be offering the outdoor practical environment that our trainees love so much and which enables them to develop their skills, see their friends and, most importantly of all – get safely out of the house again!
Welcome back everyone!