Wisbech Community Farm officially opens to help support people through animal therapy
- Credit: Harry Rutter / ARCHANT
A new farm to help people gain confidence, life skills and improve their wellbeing through animal therapy has opened in Wisbech.
The Wisbech Community Farm, which is part of Peoples and Animals CIC, has transformed seven acres of land just off Lynn Road.
The aim of the site is to bring people together with the help of animals and nature, providing early intervention, rehabilitation, community skills and helping people get back into employment.
It has dedicated areas for petting small animals, growing vegetables, crafting and equine assisted therapy.
The project received £36,000 funding from the National Lottery to purchase the plot of land last year.
Katie Bristow, director of People and Animals, said the vision for the site had been 10 years in the making.
"We want to share our skills and help each other by using our love of animals as what we have in common," she said.
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"Imagine you have been unable to leave your home for years, but then a trained therapy dog, a happy, smiley one-eyed golden retriever crosses your path. You can't help but smile back.
"The animals also help young people build on their strengths and weaknesses by understanding what skills they need to work on."
The farm currently has four members of staff and looks after around 120 people a week from a range of backgrounds and ages.
Katie said she hoped that within the next year they could extend the farm by building a barn, a mobile classroom for winter months and employ more staff.
Angie Dickinson, who is now a volunteer, has seen first-hand how the project has benefited people.
She first got involved with People and Animals her mental health struggles meant she found it difficult to leave her house.
"The support I have received has been wonderful," she said.
"You can get from animals what you can't get from humans, it is that attention and connection that is really special.
"It is just a brilliant area to be outside with nature and get help from likeminded people."
Support from Anglian Water, Clarion, Children in Need, Wisbech Town Council and plenty of other businesses in the local area helped turn plans for the farm into reality.
A tree planted by the Duke of Gloucester last September also marked work starting on site.
For more information visit http://peopleandanimals.org.uk