Intervention systems at care farms are continually developing with the aim to help and support several different client groups. The Amelia Trust Farm works closely with many disadvantaged young people aged 11-17 years with specific educational and behavioural challenges. Often these individuals arrive at the farm with low self-esteem and lack of inspiration. However statistics reveal that of those who left last year, 76% moved into education, employment or training. We know that inventions at care farms work, however repeatedly the need for a robust and systematic evidence base has been identified (Haubernhofer et al. 2010 ).
Although the concept of care farming may appear greatly inviting to farmers, Ketelaars et al. (2002) highlight finding adequate financing for the care services they provide can be a major problem for care farmers (Hassink et al. 2007). Many care farms therefore rely on charitable donations, external funding and the work of volunteers. Hine et al. (2008) surveyed 76 care farms in the UK and found that higher numbers of volunteers worked at the farms than paid staff (657 paid staff, 741 volunteers). The team of full time staff at Amelia Trust Farm is supported by 150 volunteers. These come from a range of backgrounds and ages, and contribute in many ways (e.g. erving in the cafe, working with the young people, building work, farm maintenance and animal husbandry). As they play such a big role in care farming, identifying how this work benefits these groups may be greatly useful in terms of recruitment and funding.
This study aims to explore both qualitatively and quantitatively the functions and benefits of volunteering in a care farm setting, by utilising interviews and designing a questionnaire to measure the benefits gained and any challenges or barriers volunteers face.
Rachael completed both her undergraduate BSc Psychology and MSc Health Psychology degrees here at Cardiff Metropolitan before obtaining the position as a research assistant in the department.
Rachael is currently working on an external project funded by The Waterloo Foundation, which explores “The functions and benefits of volunteering in a care farm setting”. The project is a result of collaboration between the university and The Amelia Trust farm therefore Rachael is often based at the farm in order to collect data.