Emma Ryall from Lingfield wrote to us to highlight the limited care resources in the Tandridge area.
“My son Thomas, 24, is non-verbal and has global developmental delay. He has attended Tandridge Hill Farm in Godstone twice a week for the past six years. He is one of 36 service users who benefit from this little-known provision for adults with disabilities, which offers them independence, confidence and purpose. It is a special place with exceptional staff.
Tom has the opportunity to work with pigs, cows, horses, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and even flies an owl. He has his own allotment, makes up feeds, cleans out bedding, grooms, learns basic maintenance, completes ASDAN animal certifications and is with friends. He comes home tired yet wonderfully happy, having had a fulfilling day.
The choice of provision in this area for adult day services, especially those in their 20s to 30s is very limited. YMCA Life Works, Surrey Choices and County Care are the main providers and all offer similar activities, so the farm is truly unique. It challenges the individuals who attend in a safe, yet stimulating and ever-changing environment: some of them have been going there for more than 20 years.
However, on 20 November we got the unexpected, and devastating, news that the farm was closing, and the last day for staff and service users would be 15 December, with the animals being sold off by the end of the year. Consensus Care, who owns the farm, has given us four weeks to find alternative provision. There was no warning or consultation period and such a short time frame makes it hard to challenge the decision. The email they sent was also inappropriate: it was lengthy and confusing, illustrating the lack of understanding they have for the adults who attend.
Consensus has not responded to communications from the farm’s manager, who is left dealing with the fall-out of their decision.
It took me two days to get hold of somebody, but I did manage to speak to the directors and, as suspected, the decision to close was made due to the farm not making money. However, no attempt was made to increase either the fees or the number of people attending, gain additional funding, make charitable or business partnerships or approach the council. They also said the farm had suffered dramatically with attendance since Covid, but after talking to farm staff, I discovered that only three people had not returned after the pandemic, and they were also affected by Consensus closing another facility, meaning they were then unable to get to the farm.
I am angry, as this is not about care, community or support, but a cold, calculated business decision that has disregarded the positive impact the farm has on so many.
So what do we do now?
I feel more people locally should be aware of this situation, and the constant battle some of us face in order to ensure our young adults have opportunities, and are safe and happy.”
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