A major new rural project has been developed to help change the lives of local people living with disabilities.
Two local family farms, in partnership with Rural Area Partnership in Derry (RAPID) Ltd., have embarked on the new initiative with disabled people in the Western Trust areas of Derry, Strabane and Omagh.
Gortilea Social Farm in Claudy and Butterlope Farm in Plumbridge bring participants onto the farm to assist in the day-to-day activities.
These include animal care, land management, maintaining accommodation, horticulture and all other aspects of farm life.
Rosaleen Harkin, Western Trust Assistant Director Adult Learning Disability Services, said: “The Western Trust is delighted to support the SoFarm Project and wish the two family farms in Claudy and Plumbridge every success in the future.
“This Social Farming Project improves participants’ physical and mental health and develops their social skills as well as achieving qualifications in a supported environment.
“The focus of the project is to use Social Farming to enable people with disabilities to achieve their aspirations and play a fuller role in society by undertaking training on the Social Farms and through RAPID, which is a LANTRA training centre.”
Gavin Rodgers a participant who has picked up new skills at Butterlope Farm in Plumbridge, added: “I love coming to the farm and working with the animals especially the cows and sheep.
“I have learnt lots about how to look after sheep and even how to help them lamb.”
THREE YEAR PROJECT
So Farm is a three year project led by RAPID Ltd, in partnership with the farms in Derry and Tyrone.
The initiative is supported by the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, through the Department for Employment and Learning and the Health and Social Care Board.