Relieving poverty, advancing education and promoting the UK countryside are just some of the key issues The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust supports.
The Charitable Trust has donated more than £3 million in the last 11 years and in 2016 helped 16 different organisations to progress their work.
Farms for City Children has received funding for the last five years. It offers urban children from all over the country a unique opportunity to live and work together for a week at a time on a real farm in the heart of the countryside.
Watch our video and read an account of the experience below:
An amazing experience
We arrived at Wick Court Farm on a blustery day to find 20 or so children busily working together in their wellies and waterproofs to swill and sweep the yard. They were all impressively focused on the task in hand.
Despite spending just a few hours there, we could see why the place has made a lasting impression on so many kids. There’s something in the atmosphere – the palpable commitment and enthusiasm of the staff, the incredible history of the place, the beauty of the surroundings – that is infectious.
Wick Court is a small, traditional livestock farm with sheep, beef cattle, pigs and poultry. Its 140 acres is farmed by the Charity and a handful of neighbouring farmers. What is less traditional about Wick Court is that most of the day-to day-jobs that enable the farm to function – from mucking out the ponies, to planting vegetables – are carried out by visiting school children.
“One of the most rewarding things is to see their confidence with the animals grow over the week,” John, the farm manager told us as we watched a young girl carry a lamb back to its mother in the next pen. We’d moved on from sweeping to checking on the farm’s newest arrivals.
“Many of the children have never been this close to animals when they first come here; some have never been out in the wide open spaces of the countryside. So it’s a whole new experience for them to get their heads around.”
And new experiences is what Farms for City Children is all about.
The Charity was founded in 1976 by children’s author, Michael Morpurgo and his wife, Claire to give urban children the opportunity to live and work together for a week at a time on a real farm.
Over lunch – the children and staff all break from their work at the same time to eat a cooked meal prepared from farm produce (the sausages were delicious!) – John explained that: “One of the first things the children learn is that they don’t get to eat until the animals have eaten. Each morning, they have to be up and out, feeding the animals before breakfast.
Surprisingly, the children seemed to be unfazed by the hard work. There was plenty of fun to be had and they were enjoying the time they were spending with their friends. What was more challenging for some was a week without technology. At Wick Court there is no TV, no computers – no screens at all! But as you will see in our video, the youngsters benefit in so many ways that going on their Kindle or iPhone is the last thing on their minds!
Find out more about the challenges we have taken in order to do more for our communities by downloading our Responsible Business Report 2016 below.