Who are we?
Thornwood Alpacas & Care Farm run therapeutic alpaca treks for community groups, families and individuals throughout the year. Our alpaca trekking business was set up in January 2016 and since then it has grown from strength to strength and we've been able to invest vital funds into the development of our farm to enhance the experience of our visitors.
We quickly realised the therapeutic effects of alpacas on visitors to the farm and identified a need for animal therapy services in the local area. The idea of a Care Farm was born and our not-for-profit organisation was set up at the end of 2018 and our day service was due to launch in May 2020. Our Care Farm provision aims to work with adults and young people experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, learning disabilities, autism and people experiencing loneliness and social isolation.
What has been happening?
Since 2018, our alpaca trekking business has continued to grow with sold out treks every weekend and bookings up to six weeks in advance meaning we have been able to invest in our care farm plans. We have developed our Care Farm Day Service for adults with mental health problems and learning disabilities to attend the farm and get involved with our projects (more on this later), we have passed our CEVAS qualification and obtained our Social Farms & Gardens Code of Practice, demonstrating that we meet the requirements of safe and responsible care faming practice.
As well as our alpaca treks, we have developed and successfully delivered a long term AQA Animal Care programme for home educated teenagers and have regular 1:1 sessions with young people with mental health and other additional needs. The farm has been a hive of activity and we are proud to be developing a space for people that benefits their physical and mental health and providing an opportunities for people to connect with nature and the environment.
Why we need your help?
We had sold out alpaca trek bookings up to June 2020 and our Care Farm day services was due to launch in May 2020 with 15 service users signed up to get involved with our projects. Since the Covid-19 outbreak and the restrictions enforced by the government, we have been forced to close our alpaca trekking business and our Care Farm services have been suspended. When the immediate crisis abates, the farm will be a place for people to recover from issues caused by this situation, including anxiety, depression, isolation, fear of going out, hunger and loss of work. But without urgent financial support, we may not survive to deliver these services and we are currently not eligible for any government funding.
What will we use donations for?
Animal feed, bedding and alpaca shearing are our main priorities along with general farm running costs, repairs and maintenance. In order for us to deliver our services as soon as restrictions are lifted we need to forge ahead with our plans:
DIsabled toilet facilities
Hot running water supply
Disabled access to our garden area
Kitchen area for service users
Solar panels for lighting
CCTV and personal lockers
Indoor classroom facilities
As you can see, we require funding for our long term projects as the Covid-19 restrictions will continue to affect us long after they have been lifted.
What we are doing to help?
We are not just asking for donations, we are also working hard to provide virtual experiences for people who are able to access social media. We are running a weekly Facebook Live so you can access the animals and farm updates, we have set up a YouTube channel where we upload various videos from around the farm. We are also hoping to develop some online programmes so people can access our farm from home, whilst self isolating and even gain a qualification. We are also hoping to set up a virtual alpaca trek and are in the process of working out the logistics of this using 'alpaca-cam'!