FOR more than three years a Cotswold farm has been offering children and adults with learning difficulties the chance of a little respite from their everyday challenges.

But in order to carry on providing this unique service, staff at Scrubditch Care Farm, near Cirencester, are appealing for more volunteers to come forward.

“We survive solely on funding and people’s generous donations,” said Gerry Fouracres, manager of the North Cerney-based farm.

“We are constantly on the lookout for new volunteers to help us here. The more people that we have, the more we can offer to vulnerable people.”

Research has shown that the mental health of people with learning difficulties can greatly improve when they are involved in outdoor situations.

Since being founded by Emma Costley-White in 2010, Scrubditch gives vulnerable people a hands-on farming experience that sees them partake in a variety of activities including working with animals, growing vegetables, fruit and flowers, cooking and learning basic woodworking skills.

The rural training aims to build the vulnerable people’s confidence and develop their social and practical skills.

Gerry said: “Emma, whose daughter has special needs, set it up because there are very little opportunities for people with learning difficulties in the Cotswolds to actually get outside.”

The farm, which has a regular group of students visit on a weekly basis, hopes that, by expanding, it can help others with learning difficulties. “If we had more people, we would be able to offer more.

"It is very rewarding for the volunteers, it’s all about mixing with people and helping people you wouldn’t normally interact with,” Gerry said.

The care farm is now a registered charity, which makes it easier for staff to apply for the vital funding needed to continue operating.

“We have found that a lot more people have taken an interest in us now that we are registered. It’s made the farm more official,” Gerry said.

Anyone who would like to volunteer at Scrubditch Care Farm is urged to contact Gerry by email on

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