New Mid Ulster sanctuary farm opens in Magherafelt

Mid Ulster Sanctuary, an innovative therapeutic farm, situated in fabulous mature surroundings has officially opened in Magherafelt.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 9:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 9:46 am

The farm allows small groups of people with a learning disability from the Mid Ulster area to look after deer, pigs, geese, chickens/hens, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and a pony. They spend their day doing food preparation, feeding the animals, animal care and ground maintenance in a safe and enjoyable working environment.

The farm is a joint initiative developed between Kilcreggan Homes and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

Damian Cassidy, Chief Executive Officer of Kilcreggan Homes said; “Kilcreggan Homes are delighted to develop our services in this geographical area of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, but especially with this specific type of therapeutic farming that we have championed over the past fifteen years. We have witnessed the significant positive impact this model has had on the lives of the service users and their families/carers.

Damian Cassidy, Chief Executive Officer, Kilcreggan Homes and Mr Regan, who donated the site.

“I would like to thank Mr Eamon Regan who has had a lifetime of interest in vulnerable groups for donating this beautifully manicured site. The sanctuary is open seven days a week and we are grateful to the local volunteers who provide their time throughout the week.

“Interim findings from research carried out by Dr Laurence Taggart from Ulster University confirm further evidence of the benefits of therapeutic farming and we hope to use his findings in the development and design of future services.”

Life-enhancing

Jennifer Welsh, Chief Executive of the Northern Trust said: “The therapeutic benefits of open space and small animal care, have been highlighted by our psychological services as very positive and important contributors to meeting the needs of those adults with learning difficulties.

Damian Cassidy, Jennifer Welsh, George Shields, Garth Anderson, and Eamon Regan pictured at the official opening of the Mid Ulster Sanctuary.

"This new sanctuary offers our service users much needed life-enhancing opportunities through developing communication skills, self-esteem, self-care and helping to build relationships. The new service very much complements the opportunities provided to service users attending Trust adult day centres in the Mid Ulster area.

"But this particular model of delivery for day opportunities presents a new and innovative approach that enables community and voluntary sectors to invest in employment opportunities.

"It offers service users an important alternative to traditional buildings-based day care and supports the integration of service users into the community. This is fundamentally important to improving their quality of life and reducing social inequalities.”

One service user who attends Mid Ulster Sanctuary said: “I love all the animals, I like gathering the eggs, I could live on the farm”

A family carer said of their son’s placement: “He talks about these jobs that he does in the farm like he’s completed a day’s work. He will tell everybody about this work on a Wednesday for the full week, so to me, I think he does feel a sense of achievement, and he is so hppy now.”

Kilcreggan Homes is a registered charity that specialises in social housing, day opportunities and social enterprises for adults with learning disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury. In Carrickfergus they have developed a unique urban farm that provides therapeutic farming & horticulture, for these client groups with very positive outcomes for service users.

---

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.