Sponsor an animal to support Sussex children’s charity

A Sussex charity which cares for disabled children and young people is encouraging people to sponsor one of their animals.

Chailey Heritage Foundation provides education, care and transition services to children and young adults with complex physical disabilities. Their mission is to give disabled children and young adults every opportunity to pursue their fullest potential.

The charity says animal sponsorship is the perfect gift for animal lovers both young and old and can also make a massive difference to the lives of young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation.

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The gift packs will help to support pigs, pygmy goats, chickens, geese, tortoises, sheep, guinea pigs, ducks and Shetland ponies. Sponsorship starts from just £4 per month.

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The animals all live on Patchwork Farm, an on-site therapeutic care farm, providing unique learning experiences for all young people at Chailey Heritage Foundation.

Helping to care for the livestock is an essential part of the therapy the children receive. The multi-sensory learning environment offers a calming, outside space where young people, and staff, can enjoy spending time with the animals.

It also provides benefits such as helping to build confidence and to develop language and communication skills. It costs £65,000 each year to run the farm.

Farm Manager Lesley Barcock said: “The farm is really special and makes a massive difference to our children and young people, who all have complex needs.

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“During the periods of lockdown Patchwork Farm has been a lifeline to the young people living with us and those who have continued coming to school throughout the year.

“It may be taking a guinea pig into class or it could be our students coming to the farm. We have special animal feeders, which mean the young people, using their specialist switches, can feed the animals, like anyone else.

“We do a lot of handling here. That one-to-one contact is really important as well. That can do anything from boosting social confidence, to being more confident around animals and therefore going into different environments.”

Assistant Headteacher Paula Marten stressed how important it is to raise the money needed to keep the farm going.

She said: “We do need that help from the local people. I know that the farm has always attracted lots of support, because I think you only have to look at the children here and how they experience it, and you can see how important it is to them. But we continue to need that income from the wider community.”

There are various packages available to sponsor. Each sponsorship will make a difference to the young people at Chailey.

The Small and Furry package is £4 per month or a £58 one-off yearly payment and includes a sponsorship certificate; Patch’s animal fact file; an ‘I’m supporting Patchwork Farm’ sticker, The Foundation newsletter, Discover (bi-annually, by post) and news from the Farm Newsletter (annually, by email).

The Cute and Cuddly package is £6 per month or an £84 one-off yearly payment. In addition to the Small and Furry benefits, your sponsorship pack will also include: a behind the scenes video from the Farm (annually, by email) and a handmade wooden farm animal toy.

The Large and Loud package is £8 per month or a £110 one-off yearly payment. In addition to all above, your sponsorship pack will also include

a bespoke visit to Patchwork Farm: You will receive an invitation to visit Patchwork Farm for a two-hour hands-on experience with some of the animals. Your visit can include feeding and watering the animals, grooming the Shetland Pony and guinea pigs, and handling the chickens and tortoises. A selection of dates will be offered throughout the summer holidays. Virtual options are available if required.

To find out more and secure your sponsorship, go to Sponsor an Animal (chf.org.uk)