I moved to Benfleet 9 years ago from London where I was a volunteer and Company Secretary on the Woodland Farm Trust rare breeds farm in Woolwich – all self funding. On moving to Benfleet I applied to volunteer at the rare breeds farm at the Salvation Army Training Centre Hadleigh.
I have worked with Isla, the rare breeds Tutor, all this time and we have up to 6 trainees with us each session. The trainees are mostly adults with learning difficulties. I have seen big changes in the trainees as they grow in confidence – working around animals is very therapeutic. We have been responsible for feeding the chickens, goats, sheep, rabbits and guinea pigs. There are also pigs and cows on the farm.
Each day starts with an assessment of the work that needs doing. After feeding we then clean the rabbits and chickens, also collecting eggs. Later in the day we poop scoop the sheep and goats. We generally tidy the farm and can be asked to help move the animals amongst other things. We are outside all year come rain or shine. Easter time is lambing season which is always very exciting and this year we witnessed twins being born. Each lamb is named and kept inside for a few weeks.
For a period of time I was a relief worker, covering for the tutor in her absence and also working in different departments such as carpentry and horticulture.
Each trainee is unique and develops at different levels. It takes time to get to know them but they are such lovely, kind, caring happy people – they are a joy to be around. It’s a really lovely place to volunteer and I have made lots of friends with other volunteers and staff. I have been on various courses, including makaton.
Each year the Salvation Army lays on a barbecue in the summer and high tea in the winter for their volunteers which is a good way of meeting other volunteers who are there on the days that I am not.
Click below to view a variety of volunteering roles currently available at the Salvation Army Training Centre, Hadleigh: