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It is estimated that up to 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability.

In Wiltshire, young people with learning disabilities are taught at special needs schools or in mainstream schools with special resources but once they leave these protected environments there is nowhere locally where they can work in a structured way. Yet, many people with a learning disability, with the right support, can be hardworking and reliable employees.

When two parents of young people with learning disabilities realised the difficulty presented by the absence of facilities they decided to form their own charity to provide a working occupation for their sons and others like them. 

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In 2000 a Charitable Limited Company was formed and went on to become a registered charity in the same year. It took six years of dedicated fundraising to start the project but on 27th May 2006 the tearoom was opened.

A year later the charity had chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and goats along with a miniature Shetland pony living outside and in May 2008 the animal park was officially opened.

The charity has now increased the number of animals and introduced a children’s play area, fairy wood and a land train. The tearoom provides freshly cooked lunches, homemade cakes and refreshments and has approximately 700 visitors per week.

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Hope Nature Centre . Southwick Country Park . Frome Road . Southwick . Wiltshire . BA14 9QD . 01225 759075 . info@hopenaturecentre.org.uk