Surrey Hills Society secures grant for East Surrey Care Farm Pilot


The Surrey Hills Society is delighted to have received a grant from the Mental Health Investment Fund (MHIF) a joint fund from Surrey Heartlands and Surrey County Council to implement an East Surrey Care Farm Pilot Project. This funding will enable the implementation of the care farming programme, an initiative aimed at enhancing mental well-being through visits to farms.

In collaboration with Growing Health Together and the Surrey Hills National Landscape, the Surrey Hills Society has appointed Katie Daws as the Project Officer. Katie will work closely with local farmers to orchestrate farm visits designed to promote therapeutic care for individuals facing physical, mental, and emotional challenges. This not only includes farming activities, but also nurturing the special relationship that artistic activities can bring during visits to the farms.

Katie Daws, Project Officer for the East Surrey Care Farm Project said.

“This project is a unique opportunity to develop a new, supportive environment on local farms. I have seen from my previous experiences on farms supporting vulnerable people with mental health needs that the impact goes beyond a sense of comfort for the participants. The positive impact extends to the farmers in regard to their well-being and a new source of income.”

These sessions are tailored to support the mental health of people across all ages and backgrounds. The project recognises the profound benefits of connecting with nature and farming practices, particularly for groups that have historically been underserved by conventional services. It seeks to engage individuals currently struggling to access holistic support for their mental well-being, offering a new approach for mental health and social prescribing in Surrey.

Dr Gillian Orrow, GP, Co-founder and Director of Growing Health Together said.

“I am excited for the launch of the Care Farm Pilot in East Surrey, which will offer children, young people and adults with a range of health and care support needs, opportunities to connect with nature and animals on local working farms. The initiative responds to calls from our patients and their families for a more diversified local offer to support mental health and wellbeing, one that centres nature connection and the active role people can play in their own recovery. I am excited to see the impact this project will bring”.

This grant marks a significant milestone in the Surrey Hills Society’s commitment to fostering improved well-being through connection to nature.

Rob Fairbanks, Director of the Surrey Hills National Landscape said.

“Farmers in Surrey are the custodians of our countryside, helping to maintain our landscape, provide food and create space for nature. This project is to pilot the health benefits for some of the most vulnerable members of society through therapeutic contact with farm animals. We are so grateful for the funding from Surrey County Council for our Surrey Hills Society to pilot this approach. It is an opportunity to evidence the impact so that we can work with the farming community and partners to extend the programme in future years.”




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