Widening Participation

Our partnership with ROC

We are proud to work with the Robert Owen Communities (ROC) to provide real work experience for people with learning disabilities at Lower Sharpham Farm. Approximately 50 people with mild learning disabilities from Downs Syndrome to Autism work with us every week. Their roles on the farm include feeding and caring for the animals, moving livestock, tending our organic vegetable garden, woodwork such as building bird, bat and bee boxes and metalwork. Through these tasks they participate in meaningful and valuable activities that contribute to our overall aim of managing the farm for wildlife. People supported by ROC work alongside wildlife professionals and many different trainees and volunteers, all of whom benefit from regular co-adventurer interactions. Working together in this way helps to break down barriers and foster mutual understanding.

Woodwork for Wildcams

People supported by ROC have played a key role in our Woodwork for Wildcams project. This has involved building a range of bird, bat and bee boxes into which we can put cameras that will relay pictures and sound to a television in the ‘tea break-room’. Our focus is on Swifts, Barbastelle Bats, and Bumblebees all of which are suffering decline in the UK. The boxes help to address these declines in our local area by providing artificial homes for these animals along with supplementary feeding.  This project provides valuable woodworking skills for the people ROC support, with the opportunity for them to see the real difference they are making to local wildlife.  The practical skills gained, as well as an uplift in soft skills such as interpersonal communication, increases their options for future education, training, and employment.