I work for FarmAbility (a day service based on a working farm for adults with autism and learning disabilities) as Progressions Manager. My main responsibilities are:
- Supporting individual co-farmers who are struggling to engage with the service
(Liaising with family and support workers, programme leaders and volunteers, creating support plans and implementing interventions).
- Assessing new co-farmers
(Assessing the level of support they will need, gathering information, writing risk assessments and updating the team).
- Developing and running an EmployAbility programme that supports young people into employment, and a schools programme for students aged 16-19 years
(Individual support into work, further education or training, supporting programme leaders to set goals with and support interns/students and outcome measurement).
- Supporting individual co-farmers to move on or find additional opportunities in their local community.
- Implementing and evaluating outcome measurement for all co-farmers who use the service.
- Co-ordinating and supporting Occupational Therapy students who are with us on placement.
(We host 1st, 2nd and 3rd year BSc and MSc OT placements as well as learning disability nurses, psychologists and work experience placements).
My passion for the therapeutic power of animals, in particular horses, started at an early age, volunteering with the Riding for the Disabled. I completed a degree in Equine Science with a focus on equine behaviour and the therapeutic use of horses. Following this I worked at the National Star College (a specialist college for young adults with physical and learning disabilities), supporting students to increase their independence in daily living skills, including work and community access. This is where I discovered Occupational Therapy (!) and started to see how horses could be used as a therapeutic tool with the skills and knowledge of an Occupational Therapist.
I qualified from Oxford Brookes University in 2014 with a dissertation focused on the therapeutic use of horses with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I now work at FarmAbility, a day service based on a working farm, supporting adults with autism and learning disabilities. As part of my role I particularly enjoy enabling co-farmers to change their occupational narrative to one in which they are ‘doing, being, becoming and belonging’; autonomous, capable and valued members of their community.