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 and mainstream schools with special resources. When they are 16 they can move to specialist colleges such as Fairfield Farm College in Dilton Marsh or other colleges with specialist facilities. Once they leave these specialist environments there is often nowhere locally where they can continue to learn the skills to work in a structured way. Yet, many people with a learning disability, with the right support, make a valuable contribution to your organisation.
In the late 1990’s, parents of young adults with learning disabilities realised the difficulty presented by the absence of facilities and decided to form their own charity to provide a working occupation for their children and others like them. 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 Cafe was officially opened.
A year later the charity opened a small Animal Park, which had chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and goats along with a miniature Shetland pony. The charity increased the number of animals and introduced children’s play areas and a calendar of special events, and soon welcomed over 700 visitors a week.
In 2017, The Hope Nature Centre approached Fairfield Farm College, a charity with similar objectives in working to support young people with learning disabilities, to formally merge to form a single charity. The merger took place on 1st October 2018 and operates under Fairfield Farm Trust and continues to provide training opportunities for young adults with learning difficulties. Incorporating both Fairfield Farm College and Hope Nature Centre, the Fairfield Farm Trust is registered under charity number 273924.
Since 2018, Fairfield Farm College has invested over £250,000 into the facilities at Hope Nature Centre. They’ve welcomed an array of new animals, refurbished the on-site Café, introduced a range of exciting new play areas, and created a plethora of new events. This has seen visitor numbers increase to well over 200 visitors a day during the busy periods, and has allowed Hope Nature Centre to keep supporting young adults with learning difficulties, as well as giving students at Fairfield Farm College a real life working environment to learn a range of new skills.
There are plans to increase the offerings at Hope Nature Centre, including more play equipment and animals. Recently, a brand new classroom facility has just opened for students to use, providing a warm and welcoming learning environment.
If you would like to donate to Hope Nature Centre, you can donate online or send us a cheque. If you wish to donate by Cheque, please make this our to Fairfield Farm Trust, Fairfieldarm Trust, 43 High Street, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire, BA13 4DL