Progression to further training/education
One participant was a young woman who had recently moved to a new area, had a very poor experience with the mainstream education system and was quite socially isolated. She had been on a Youth Reach programme but found it difficult to cope with the structure of it. She was resistant to engaging with any of the other mainstream educational or supported employment options which were potentially available to her. In discussions with the local SICAP Education and Youth Support Worker she had spoken of a love of animals and horses in particular. On completion of the social farming placement, she began a two year horsemanship course through the National Learning Network in autumn 2017. According to the SICAP worker, she is really enjoying the course and absolutely plans to continue with it; it is her view that that this participant would never have committed to and persisted with such a course prior to her positive experience of social farming.
Improved levels of social confidence and an increased capacity to interact and communicate with others.
One social farming participant was a young man from a rural area in the North-West of Ireland who experiences high levels of social anxiety and has found it difficult to participate long-term in occupational, education or social opportunities outside of his immediate family environment. He is a client of the Mental Health Services in the Sligo/Leitrim area and an Occupational Therapist (OT) is assigned to work with him to build his confidence and capacity to engage more fully in the kind of activities typical of his peers. Amongst the most significant benefits of the social farming placement was the improvement in his capacity and willingness to interact with others socially;
“ I would tend to not go out very much, certainly before I came here, I would not have been out very much and I would have been fairly anxious talking to people to be honest….getting to know [names farmer and other participant] it has given me a little bit more confidence even just to do simple things like go to the shop. I’ve got used to talking to people outside of my own family I suppose…..I have proved to myself that I can interact with other people.” – ID participant
This outcome is a very common one across all of the groups who participate in social farming.
“Before I went there [social farm] I would not be able to sit here and do this interview. I would not be able to talk to you because I did not know you…. but when I went there I did not really know (M, farmer), I did not really know anybody that was there except for the boys. He started talking to me and we copied him and started talking to everybody else.” Youth participant
Development of new interests
Increased sense of self-worth and self-belief
“I generally feel good in myself, inside myself. I haven’t felt like that in a good while now, since I first went to hospital a few years ago. I [have] a bit of happiness inside, a bit of life inside me.” – Mental health participant