Ambios is proud to work with United Response, a charity which supports adults with learning difficulties. Around 50 people with mild learning difficulties come to the farm every week, to help carry out the day to day farm tasks which include feeding and caring for the animals, moving livestock and tendering our organic vegetable garden. They also participate in woodwork, metalwork, wildlife conservation and, most recently, have helped set up the Lower Sharpham Farm market stall, which they help man every Friday in Totnes Market Square.
Nature conservation trainees have the opportunity to work alongside the people supported by United Response, all of whom benefit from the regular co-adventure interactions. Mariana is such a person. She was a 12 week nature conservation trainee from Portugal and was with us from October to December 2017. She worked with the people we support in Conservation Group and Animal Care Group and has reflected on her time working with them…
“When I applied to this 12 Week Traineeship in Nature Conservation I knew I would be doing some work with disabled people, which sounded like an excellent opportunity to share and learn new ways of communicating and teach conservation, among other things. After the talk we had with Paul Deakin (United Response), I still was thrilled to do it but started to be a bit afraid of not being able to properly communicate without overstepping, disrespecting or offending the guys. However, the first Tuesday I worked with them, it was like I’ve always been doing this for all my life, it felt easy and comfortable being around them. Every Tuesday, even though my mood wasn’t the best, they always would make me smile and laugh. That’s a thing I have learnt from them, to be strong and persistent no matter what.
The first group which I worked with was Conservation Group (CG), a small group with at least five people led by Louis. During my time there we had the opportunity to build a nest box for jackdaw’s, tawny owls and stock dove; replace the bird feeding camera and prepare a presentation to be played during the meal time. After three weeks in the CG I swapped to the Animal Care Group (ACG) led by Matthew. This group is much bigger and complex than the previous group. Here we cared for the hens, ponies, sheep and cows. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to work in the garden, yet, I had met and talked to the guys in that group during Tuesday lunch-time. This was a great time to chat with everyone who I didn’t work with in the groups. Likewise, I also helped Mathew and some guys with egg washing and delivery. I think the guys were well distributed in their groups, they were given tasks that would fit their mood and capabilities.
In the end, this was a wonderful, however short, time that I got to spend with these enthusiastic, strong willed people and their teachers. It’s a brilliant job that the United Response is doing to integrate and empower disabled people. To give their lives purpose, to teach them how to do it yourself with confidence and proper skills. It’s nice to see the relation and nice environment between all the United Response group here on the farm (teachers and guys). I hope you can keep going with this project and enjoy the time you have with this work family. It is really delightful to know that efforts like these exists. It’s definitely something I’ll take with me into the future.” (Mariana M. Ferreira, 2017)