Link Worker Diary: Jamie's Farm By Danielle Meredith “I liked digging out the tree stump” “No way it wasn’t as good as running through the fields in the pouring rain” “My favourite bit was definitely rolling down the hill…or maybe holding the baby lambs” These were some responses to the question: what has been the highlight of your trip to Jamie’s Farm? This question was asked to the group of 11 secondary students I brought on a week-long residential trip to Jamie’s Farm, located in East Sussex. Jamie’s farm provides young people with the opportunity to work on a fully functioning farm, focusing on giving them time and space to reflect. They do this by creating an environment where the young people feel respected, and are given opportunities to display their talents and show responsibility. To encourage a fully immersive experience and an escape from the distractions of normal life, students are required to hand in their mobile phones and electronic devices, as well as any sugary or processed snacks. The students, most of whom had never gone a full day without their phone, were reluctant to hand them over. Despite their reluctance, by the second day there was a unanimous decision that life was “so much simpler and less stressful” without mobile phones. Here’s an outline of what an average day at the farm looked like:7.30 – 9.00: Wake up and morning activity. Some groups went on feeding rounds while one group stayed back to cook breakfast.9.00 – 10.00: Breakfast and morning “check-in”. For the morning and evening “check-ins” students explained how they’d been feeling, rating themselves on a scale from 1-10, as well as acknowledging the work one of their peers had done well that day.10.00 – 12.30: Morning session. This session consisted of an activity on the farm. This could be gardening, carpentry, cooking, farming or crafts. All of the activities the young people completed were tasks that ensured the farm thrived and functioned properly.12.30 – 1.30: Lunch. All the meals were made by the young people and were healthy.1.30 – 4.00: Afternoon session. Students did an activity different from their morning session.4.00 – 5.00: Snack time5.00 – 6.00: Daily walk. The group went on new walk every day where they explored a different type of landscape. The first walk was up a high ridge where they could see the sea, the second was through neighbouring fields, and the last was through forested land.6.00 – 7.00: Shower and chill time7.00 – 8.00: Dinner and evening “check-in”. All the meals are eaten around a communal table where students are encouraged to reflect on their days and recognise the good work of other students.8.00 – 9.30: Evening activity. Organised games, bonfire or movie night.9.30: Bedtime. The students stayed in a converted farm house in rooms of 2-4 pupils. It was amazing to see how valuable the experience was for the students. They were constantly being challenged as they engaged in tasks which pushed them outside of their comfort zone. Many of the students have said they have been able to recognise their own abilities, they are more willing to take risks and that the experience has improved their overall confidence and wellbeing. Some of the memories I’ll hold onto from the trip include: Listening to a group of year 8 girls who previously weren’t friends motivate each other up a hill on our first walk The way two of the boys who are generally disengaged at school proudly exclaimed that they had built a shelving unit to store all the wellies Hearing the excitement of the students, many of whom had never been to the countryside, on the bus as we approached the farm for the first time Thanks so much to the amazing Jamie’s Farm staff who made the trip possible and built invaluablerelationships with the students over a short period of time.