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Back to nature! Care farm sets up outdoors club for older men

PUBLISHED: 11:52 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 04 August 2020

Tessa Amos and volunteer Katie Bowers at The Sunflower Community Care Farm. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Tessa Amos and volunteer Katie Bowers at The Sunflower Community Care Farm. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A Suffolk care farm has set up a club where older men with health difficulties can stay fit and well in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis by going back to nature.

The Sunflower Community Care Farm, run by Tessa Amos, has set up a new Countrymen Club  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Sunflower Community Care Farm, run by Tessa Amos, has set up a new Countrymen Club Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Sunflower Community Care Farm, in Capel St Andrew, near Woodbridge, is part of the Countrymen UK network of farms, where older men with underlying health conditions such as Parkinson’s, dementia, arthritis, heart problems or mental ill health can work on the land with farmyard animals.

Organisers say the new Countrymen Club, due to start running in August or September, is “quite therapeutic for a lot of people” and also provides carers with vital period of respite while members are working at the farm.

MORE: Coronavirus infection rate rises again in Suffolk

The club, which was due to start earlier in the year but was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis, has about six places for sessions on a Monday or Thursday afternoon. Full weekly sessions are planned once the club is up and running.

The new Countrymen Club will allow men to do a range of activities including looking after animals and tending to plants. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe new Countrymen Club will allow men to do a range of activities including looking after animals and tending to plants. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

It is particularly aimed at older men, as research often shows it is more difficult to reach that group with support activities.

Andrea Amey, outreach initiative specialist for The Sunflower Community Care Farm and Countrymen UK Network, said: “The idea is that we’re an alternative to a day care centre.

“The clubs are specifically for men who have worked in farming or horticulture, or even just love being outdoors, and have a long-term physical or mental health condition.

“It helps them do a lot more physical activity. They can be outdoors and it gives them that little bit of independence - and makes them more resilient.

Volunteer Katie Bowers with Tessa Amos. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDVolunteer Katie Bowers with Tessa Amos. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

“It also helps to support their carers. They can leave them at the farm for a few hours and have a bit of head space and time to themselves.”

Activities at the farm - run by Tessa Amos - include looking after a range of animals from chickens to horses, goats and rabbits, as well as tending to plants, collecting eggs and pond dipping, amongst other activities.

David Drysdale, project manager at Countrymen UK, said: “Everyone is aware that older people can be the hardest hit by situations like this.

“But we’re determined to do what we can for everyone affected by Covid 19 in the communities we serve.”

The Sunflower Community Care Farm, run by Tessa Amos, has set up a new Countrymen Club  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Sunflower Community Care Farm, run by Tessa Amos, has set up a new Countrymen Club Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

For more information, email Tessa Amos at The Sunflower Community Care Farm.

Rabbits are just one of the many animals at The Sunflower Community Care Farm. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDRabbits are just one of the many animals at The Sunflower Community Care Farm. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The Sunflower Community Care Farm has set up a new Countrymen Club. Pictured are Tessa Amos and volunteer Katie Bowers. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Sunflower Community Care Farm has set up a new Countrymen Club. Pictured are Tessa Amos and volunteer Katie Bowers. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

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Pond dipping is another activity which members of the Countrymen Club at The Sunflower Community Care Farm will be able to enjoy. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDPond dipping is another activity which members of the Countrymen Club at The Sunflower Community Care Farm will be able to enjoy. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND


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