A CARE farm on the Herefordshire border has been handed a boost with a National Lottery grant.

Longlands Farm at Whitbourne has won the £87,000 grant to extend its ground-breaking work with teenagers. It will help fund a specialist mental health support worker for three years.

“Words cannot explain how much Julia and the team at Longlands Farm have impacted one of our recent students, in such a short period of time,” said Richard Rainbird-Hitchens, head of year 11 at the Aspire Academy in Worcester.

“The new worker’s role will have a significant part to play in supporting the work already taking place at the farm. It could be the key to unlocking barriers that prevent the young people from thriving. This role is a big challenge, but with the right person, this role is going to be a pillar of the farm.”

Longlands helps young people who struggle with mainstream school to re-engage with their studies and the world through working and studying on a farm. They learn practical skills, gain qualifications in both land based studies and English and maths, and have one-to-one mentoring and support.

Maddie Burton, Senior Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Worcester University said: “I have seen at first-hand how the team at Longlands helps children and young people, finding mainstream education impossible, to blossom in the farm environment, continuing with their education, learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. I am delighted that Longlands has received funding to appoint a new mental health support worker. The role completes the team and will now enable provision of onsite joined-up therapeutic care to assist both individuals and families and make life changing differences to the lives of vulnerable children and their futures.”

Longlands was founded in 2009 by Julia Evans on an organic livestock farm near Bromyard, and has gained a reputation for excellent work with teenagers. They also help students at risk of exclusion from mainstream school.

Chief executive officer Julia Evans is herself qualified and experienced in mental health support but she says this will take their provision on to a new level: “The need to support young people is even more pressing , especially with the impact of Covid. We have had several referrals just in the last month with schools opening up again. A mental health specialist will greatly enhance what myself and the staff team already do on a daily basis.”