The Papworth Trust helps to support people with disabilities live their lives to the full. Today we're helping them tell everyone that their accessible holiday farm, Kerry Farm in West Wales, which provides support and respite for people affected by disability, is now open for paid bookings for the first time. Until now, holidays at the farm near Newtown in Wales have only been available upon application and this means that more people will be able to use the facility.
Kate Coghlan of the Papworth Trust tells us more
When someone has a disability, illness or injury, or is living with mental ill health, finding the perfect holiday can be tricky. So Kerry Farm was created as a holiday tailored to the guests’ needs, where they can choose to try new challenges or enjoy a rare chance to relax.
The support of the farm’s experienced family coaches is included for free to help guests spend quality time together or to give them time apart. And if needed, they can provide families with the tools and techniques to resolve conflicts, reach compromises and help transform everyday living situations.
To make sure holidays are as stress free as possible, the coaches contact guests before they arrive to find out what level of support they’d like and to make sure that all their needs are catered for.
Guests can choose to stay in fully accessible cottages and yurts. The cottages all have an open plan kitchen, dining room and living areas and can sleep up to 10 people. Holiday makers are also welcome to use the farmhouse, which offers a large dining room, comfy lounge, games room and a sensory room with coloured lighting and sensory objects.
As it’s a working farm, guests can choose to help feed the sheep and pigs, collect eggs from the chickens or walk the goats. Transport to the surrounding tourist attractions such Aberystwyth beach or the Elan Valley is also included in the stay.
The Jenkins family holiday
Clare Jenkins went to Kerry Farm last summer with her 3 children, all of whom have been diagnosed as being on the ASD spectrum. The unique and accessible holiday resort is run by disability charity Papworth Trust and it provides support and respite for people affected by disability.
She talked to us about her experience, and why she is pleased the farm is now opening its doors to everyone.
I found Kerry Farm online, while searching for ASD friendly holidays. We hadn’t been on holiday before as a family. With 3 children on the ASD spectrum and the eldest being agoraphobic, it felt like an impossible dream. Planning a simple family outing felt hard enough, let alone a week away. We did need a break though. Despite being married for 21 years, my husband and I barely saw each other. I think we’ve done well to stay together at all.
At the time, holidays at Kerry Farm were only available to selected families upon application. 600 families applied in the first year and I think our application got through based on the numbers of difficulties we face as a family, and my sheer desperation. When we found out we’d been offered a free break we felt as if we’d won the lottery. It was the very best thing that could have happened to us. We knew that this would be somewhere safe for all the children and would give us something to look forward to. We hoped it would help keep us together as a family.
I had many worries in the run up to the holiday. Bedtime is a particularly anxious time in our house, and I started to worry about where the children would sleep. When I spoke to the Farm Manager Natalie about it though, she reassured me that they would be happy to move beds around or provide different ones if necessary. Robin, one of the family coaches contacted me before the holiday. We spent a lot of time talking about the children’s needs and their likes and dislikes. Robin asked, “What can we do for you? We can help however you want.”
We were welcomed to the farm like superstars. All the staff came out to meet us. They remembered our names straight away and made us feel very special. Our children gelled with the staff immediately. It was as if magic dust had been sprinkled on them. They were not just happy at the farm – I have never seen them so settled. They were happier and more settled than they are at home. It was wonderful to see them have free rein of somewhere so safe and welcoming.
The family in the cottage next door had similar needs to us, and we became good friends. It was wonderful not having to explain our children’s behaviour or apologise for them, because everyone just got it. Natalie even said to me, “Stop apologising. Relax!” The other family have visited us at home, and together we dream of returning to the farm for a holiday. It would be great if we could return together.
The biggest change we saw was in my eldest son William. At home he stays in his room and prefers not to leave it. At the farm, he came out of his shell. He loved the animals and built up a special rapport with Natalie. He even played chess with people in the evenings! I have never seen him open up so much before or since. On our return, both his teacher and the family therapist said that the holiday had been “life changing” for him and “the best therapy he could have had.”
I am delighted that the farm is now open to everyone for paid bookings. People like us are desperate for somewhere to go, and there really isn’t anywhere else like in the UK. It’s great to think that people can go there without any hassle and just relax and be themselves. It’s an amazing place, and we can’t wait to go again (we are just hoping to get the funding together!). It really will be the only thing we will look forward to this year!
More on Kerry Farm
If you'd like to find out more about staying at Kerry Farm, you can see a film about for Kerry Farm and find out more at: www.papworthtrust.org.uk/kerryfarm
Prices start from £180 per person for a week for a large group booking and £280 per person for a family.