Claire Cordell - Little Gate Farm
My name is Claire Cordell and I am of Fellow of SSE Hampshire, from 2012-2013. I took a crucial personal journey on the start-up program, which I will be forever grateful for. It not only gave me the confidence to go for it, most importantly it changed the way I saw myself, I started to understand that I didn’t need to have all the skills, or be good at everything, to start with the passion and the energy is enough.
Having a learning disabled child inspired me to set up Little Gate Farm which is a care farm and training centre CIO for learning disabled adults and children in East Sussex. We have been operational for one year this month, and what a year it has been!
We started last March 2014 with 6 Farm Rangers (the working title for our learning disabled adults) two days a week, and one year on we have grown, we are now open seven days a week offering 56 places across all programs.
Earlier this year in 2015, we also started a Woodland Project for 10 Rangers, these are more able young adults with autism spectrum disorders. We have also launched a Young Ranger Project where we offer educational visits to schools and provide respite breaks for 8 -16 year old children with learning disabilities and their families, both of these new programs are full.
Our next project is to find supported employment opportunities for our rangers in the wider community, employment brings dignity and increased wellbeing and many of our rangers have much to offer employers. Unemployment figures for learning disabled adults is approx. 94% compared with 6% in the general population, and opportunities are very limited in East Sussex. Learning disabled adults bring a lot to businesses, they are often more reliable and keen to do the more mundane jobs general employees are less keen on, their presence in the workplace can also create a more compassionate workforce.
We still rely on grant funding but we hope to be viable by 2016!
Little Gate farm has a small but committed passionate team, who I could not do it all without. It’s been a great journey so far and the challenges have been around me managing myself and the balancing the needs of project and making time for family & friends. But from the very beginning it has felt as though the universe has conspired to help me, and the right people have come along when I needed them to, chance conversations and being in the right place at the right time.
Thanks SSE Hampshire for starting my journey…
Little Gate Farm website
Tel: 01797 260125 / 07811 464202