Welsh farm reaches out to vulnerable young people
In this project, disadvantaged young people from Wales were invited to work with the Amelia Trust farm, a working farm set in 160 acres of countryside in the beautiful vale of Glamorgan. The farm is home to a variety of livestock, and the facilities are often used by disaffected young people and adults with learning difficulties, who travel from the urban areas of South Wales to train, experience and share positive changes in their lives. The farm offers schooling for these children, who are often excluded from mainstream education, and prepares them for a fulfilling life of their own. The leader of the project Nicola Bowes said:
‘Media attention about young people often focuses on crime, which only serves to further exclude them. This collaboration with the BBC enabled a wider perspective on young people’s lives, aspirations and challenges. It gave excluded young people a voice.’
‘The Trust has successfully worked with young people for 17 years, helping them to progress into employment or education. However, little was understood about how the Trust achieves these positive outcomes, nor about the perceptions or experiences of the young people.’
This project sought to answer these questions, by equipping the young participants with skills and providing an opportunity for them to interview previous farm ‘graduates’ who had been involved with the farms many initiatives. The young people asked the graduates about their experiences of the farm. They then communicated their findings using video diaries. They were trained in basic research skills, taught how to ask questions, and how to record and interpret their answers using video and audio recordings. The findings of the project were presented by the young people at a mini-conference.
The ultimate aims of this project were to change the aspirations of typically 'underachieving' young people, and to make them see the worth in themselves and increase their self esteem. Before the project, the young people were asked to consider their ‘future self’, i.e. where they saw themselves in the future, what they saw themselves doing, and what their aspirations were. After the project they were asked this again, to see if there were any differences in their future aspirations. This experience encouraged the young people to reflect and consider choices that they are making now and how these may impact on their future.
As well as giving the young people a ‘voice’, the farm community hopes to use the outcomes of this project to adapt the systems at the farm in response to the feedback from their previous graduates.
The Amelia Trust Farm