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How animals are helping this group of young adults

PUBLISHED: 07:04 21 July 2019 | UPDATED: 07:48 21 July 2019

Lunchtime at Fairview Farm with Georgina Hanser centre of the table and some of the young adults. Picture: FAIRVIEW FARM

Lunchtime at Fairview Farm with Georgina Hanser centre of the table and some of the young adults. Picture: FAIRVIEW FARM

Fairview Farm

As a teacher and the mum of an autistic son, Georgina Hanser had clear views on how to help young adults with disabilities - and 18 months ago she launched a new project to do just that.

Georgina Hanser who started Fairview Farm Enterprises at the beginning of 2018 to provide something new for young adults with disabilities. Picture: DAVID VINCENTGeorgina Hanser who started Fairview Farm Enterprises at the beginning of 2018 to provide something new for young adults with disabilities. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

At the beginning of 2018 she launched Fairview Farm, a new style of day care centre, from her home at Akenham, near Ipswich.

She said: "Fairview Farm is unique. It isn't actually a care farm, it is an aspirational day provision for young adults with disabilities."

Mrs Hanser has taught in the prison service, as well as at schools and colleges, most recently at Suffolk One, but wanted to realise her vision of helping young people as they leave the traditional education system.

"We have an educational ethos and a core belief that young adults should be supported to develop and progress, and that this should be alongside other young adults.

There are animals including pigs, goats, chickens and four dogs at Fairview Farm. Georgina Hanser with one of the four Kune Kune pigs, Ed Sheeham. Picture: DAVID VINCENTThere are animals including pigs, goats, chickens and four dogs at Fairview Farm. Georgina Hanser with one of the four Kune Kune pigs, Ed Sheeham. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

"I am also a parent of a young adult with disabilities, so I understand what families want and what is important to them."

She has developed the day care centre in buildings within the two-acre gardens at her home. There are also raised beds for growing vegetables, a sensory garden and paddocks for pigs, goats and chickens, with fields surrounding the whole area.

The young people can get involved in growing, animal care and cooking as well as activities like art and crafts, and educational classes. Three youngsters have asked to have maths classes.

Her autistic son Jacob, 22, also attends.

Fairview Farm is a community interest company (CIC) so any profits are re-invested in the project.

She said: "I set up Fairview Farm Enterprises CIC with no business experience, opening in January. I am now a fully fledged entrepreneur.

"Since opening 18 months ago I have turned my vision into a reality and now have four staff on permanent contracts.

"We support up to 25 young people every week and due to demand have opened five days a week.

"The youngsters come from the Ipswich area and as far as Woodbridge and Stowmarket.

"I am incredibly proud of my team, and what we do on a daily basis."

She added: "I have had a lot of support from my family, my husband Tony, sons Dom and Adam ,and daughter Philippa."

A typical morning's activities include shopping for ingredients, preparing vegetables and cooking chicken pie, and then sharing the meal the young people created.

One building is set up as an arts and craft centre, with a row of cushions lined up on a shelf that have been made by the youngsters. Each has their own.

"They chose the material themselves in town and stitched them on a sewing machine. We have mindfulness sessions when we lay on the ground, and look up at the skies. This is a lovely place for people to be."

Another building is to be brought into use as a classroom/activity area later this year, she said.

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