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

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 - Credit: 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.

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 - Credit: 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.

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 - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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


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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.

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“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.

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 - Credit: 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.”

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 - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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

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 - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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 - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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 - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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