The Bonterre Community Interest Company (CIC) was set up in 2014 as an “alternative” educational resource based on a 15-acre small-holding and is run by a team of highly trained permanent staff and volunteers. We have experienced children and youth workers, qualified teachers and a clinical psychologist that work together to create a unique learning environment that enables children to manage their emotions and develop the key skills for success. We use the land, animals and the natural environment as a medium with which to engage children and young people, with services tailored to meet the needs of young people challenged by mental health issues, educational disengagement and other circumstances that limit their life.
Sessions on the farm include general horticultural tasks, such as preparing the ground, sowing, planting, weeding and harvesting crops. These tasks enable young people to achieve success and see the benefit of their efforts as well as engendering a sense of ownership and pride. We also make effective use of animal care, which proves effective with children who struggle to build relationships.
Other activities include cooking (using produce harvested from the farm), carpentry, crafting, fishing and bush-craft skills – all designed to develop practical skills and raise self-confidence. Sessions are carried out in a therapeutic environment under the supervision of well trained, qualified staff, passionate about improving the lives of and opportunities for young people. Our staff are able to constantly guide children to make appropriate choices when working with others and following instructions, enabling them to develop their social and emotional skills and resilience.
Key to every day, is time spent eating together at our family meals. Children and staff discuss successes and are encouraged to praise each other. Where necessary, deeper issues around emotional skills can be discussed to help children use their new skills when they return to school and succeed in the classroom.
As well as our therapeutic interventions, we also run a range of science and horticultural days suitable for school trips and, outside of school time, we have activities for adults too. The farm’s beautiful countryside location provides an opportunity for young people to engage with the natural environment. Our sessions help to increase physical activity and promote healthy eating, leading to improved physical, as well as mental health.
We are approved to deliver AQA accreditations.