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 sons 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 a tea room 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 children’s play areas and a calendar of special events. The cafe provides freshly cooked lunches, homemade cakes and refreshments and has approximately 700 visitors per week.
In 2017, Trustees of 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.