Social Farming Across Borders (Social Farming Acros..)
Social Farming Across Borders
Start date: Jul 31, 2011,
End date: Sep 29, 2014
The project will promote and deliver social farming services for access by disadvantaged groups within society in the eligible cross-border region. It will build human and social capacity of farm households and health care service providers in the border counties and Northern Ireland to provide sustainable and high quality services and enable service users to guide delivery of services through their participation in a newly cross-border established network. Achievements: Social Farming is the practice of offering family farms as a form of social service. It has the potential to offer solutions to public service provision in rural areas and to re-connect farmers with their community. In Social Farming, the farm remains a working farm at its core but invites people to participate in the activities of the farm. In return, the farmer is rewarded for the provision of the service.Social Farming services provide disadvantaged groups of people the opportunity for inclusion, to increase their self-esteem and to improve health and well-being. Social Farming is well established in a number of EU states such as the Netherlands, Belgium and a project has been running in the West Midlands of England. However, it is poorly developed and supported in Ireland and Northern Ireland.This project will increase public awareness of the opportunities that Social Farming offers, it will create a resource and contact point for Social Service Providers and those that use the service and it will ultimately expand the availability of the service in the cross border region. It also aims to positively influence public policy in rural development as well as health and social care service delivery in rural areas.The objectives of SoFAB are to:· establish a network of service providers and users of social farming in the cross border region which shares information and acts as a platform for engaging in public policy debate in agricultural/rural development and provision of care services;· identify and disseminate best practices in delivery of social farming services and present these practices in terms of clear guidelines and protocols that enable farm households to consider and, where appropriate, engage in delivery of Social Farming services· strengthen the capacity of farm households and social services personnel to deliver high quality Social Farming services that meet the needs of disadvantaged groups of people.· raise public awareness, particularly amongst farming communities and social service agencies in the cross border region, of the existence and potentials of Social Farming both as a quality social service and as an opportunity to deliver new services on farms and to influence in public policy dialogue towards recognition and support for Social Farming in the region.There are a number of key achievements and impacts to date as follows:· Awareness and interest raised in social farming throughout the region among the farming and health and social care sectors as well as families and friends of people who may use the services. This is reflected in the large numbers who have attended open days on the social farming pilot farms to date.· Highly effective SoFAB website established and logo developed for promotion of the project (logo above).· Established and negotiated with the two main farm insurance companies in the region to provide farm insurance cover for farmers interested in delivering social farming services· Well trained and experienced farmers (20) who have piloted social farming services since middle of 2013.· Network of farmers and health and social care workers in Region established which has interacted through meetings, field trips and web-based discussion.· 63 people who have benefitted to date from the services provided on the 20 pilot social farms in the region.· Social Farming stand at many national and local agricultural events such as Balmoral Show and National Ploughing Event.· Highly successful Social Farming Conference entitled Living an Ordinary Life attended by 200 people from the health and social care services, farming and rural development sectors as well as representatives of service users at Carrick on Shannon in June 2013· A network of service providers and users has been established in the cross border region which has been active through the combination of network meetings as well as field trips and web-based interactions. Network membership is voluntary and represents the cross section of service users, farmers and providers within the region.· The 20 pilot farmers from both NI and RoI frequently collaborate and share experiences through joint training programmes and attendance at each others Open Days. This has resulted in a representative group of six of the farmers working together to identify the most appropriate institutional arrangements that will allow them to continue providing social farming services after the pilot practice.· 63 people have benefitted from social farming services provided on pilot farms and have reported high levels of satisfaction with the experience as well as a desire to continue. This is reinforced by family members of the service users as well as the farmers themselves. Overall it has been a positive experience for all involved with a strong desire to continue and expand the service.· There has been enhanced public awareness of the potential of Social Farming in the region with over 300 people attending pilot farm open days as well as the many hundreds who have been introduced to social farming at major national and local agricultural shows. TV coverage on RTEs Nationwide Programme in November 2013 has introduced the project to an estimated 350,000 people and this is complemented by substantial press coverage over the past two years.· Farm households and social services personnel have strengthened capacities for service delivery through training programmes and the experience of joint-delivery of services on pilot farms.There are strong indications that the social farming services delivered through the 20 pilot farms will be mainstreamed through arrangements yet to be made between farmers who can provide quality social farming services and the health and social care agencies including Health Trusts in Northern Ireland and the HSE in Ireland. Such arrangements would see service contracts between farmers and service agencies whereby farmers are paid for delivery of high quality social farming services to people who are already receiving services.Training of farmers as well as health and social care service staff can be continued based on the development of a training curriculum, trainer guidelines and related materials by the SoFAB Project. It is envisaged that the current project partners (UCD, LDCo, QUB and CAFRE) will continue to offer this training beyond the life of the project.
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