Sudbury charity receives grant which could ‘transform lives’

The Befriending Scheme chief executive Shirley Moore. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Befriending Scheme chief executive Shirley Moore. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A Sudbury-based charity has received a grant of nearly £5,000 to launch a community farm project to reduce loneliness and isolation in the area.

The funding will enable The Befriending Scheme, based at The Croft in the town, to launch the Friends Care Farm – a rural haven where vulnerable adults can build friendships and learn new skills, including gardening, cooking and caring for animals.

Another essential aim of the project is to reduce loneliness and isolation, which is a growing problem all across the country.

The Befriending Scheme has been tackling the issue in Suffolk and beyond for nearly 30 years through its range of services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs, older people and other isolated groups.

The charity successfully bid from the grant from Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England.

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Shirley Moore, the charity’s chief executive officer, said: “The Friends Care Farm has the potential to transform lives.

“We know from our 28 years of providing support to vulnerable people that our members will derive so much pleasure, increased confidence and essential life skills from the services we’ll provide on the farm.

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“The future for the farm is hugely exciting – over the next few years we’re planning to develop it to incorporate a community café and farm shop, and even holiday accommodation, so that members of the public can enjoy the care farm too.

“The grant from Power to Change has been crucial to enabling us to write a comprehensive business plan based on the land that we have identified. We are one step closer to getting the farm up and running so we’re delighted.”

Over the past nine months, Power to Change has been working with Suffolk County Council and a number of district councils to unearth budding community business ideas by local people for local people.

Known as Suffolk seed grants, these will test the viability of the businesses proposed and the benefit they could bring to the area.

Richard Harries, director of the Power to Change Research Institute, said: “It’s great to be able to support fledgling community business ideas, many of which just need a bit of help at the start to really take off.

“We’re excited to see how plans for the care farm develop and the benefits it could bring locally.”

For more information on The Befriending Scheme, visit

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