Julian Knight's Westminster Diary, 30/05/19

Solihull Mail.

Last week, I had the enormous pleasure of joining local councillor Katy Blunt for a guided tour of Newlands Bishop Farm, the Family Care Trust’s rural activity centre in Catherine-de-Barnes.

This remarkable facility offers a range of work-based and learning opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities – it currently supports 85 young people across such fields as horticulture, woodworking, catering, and animal care.

Project workers also have the chance to learn commercial catering and retail skills at the on-site café, which is open to the public seven days a week – 10.30 to 2.30 on weekdays, 10 until 3 on weekends. I can vouch for the coffee!

There were some beautiful flower arrangements for sale too, with the proceeds raising money for charity.

Katy and I were also shown a tepee which had been set up for an upcoming wedding – such events are staffed by the young people, who work the kitchen and bar as well as the wait service.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Family Care Trust, they’re a local Solihull-based charity with a mission to support adults of all ages who experience learning disabilities and mental health challenges.

They operate a number of initiatives in and around our town. As well as the farm there is also an adult Dementia Day Centre, a Community Support Service aimed at helping vulnerable keep their independence, and a Community Gardening Service.

It was fascinating to hear how Newslands Bishop has gone from strength to strength since it joined the Trust in 2002, especially its partnership with Birmingham Metropolitan College which gives project workers the opportunity to earn valuable qualifications.

The farm also boasts a new stable block and is in the process of developing a riding school.

I am hugely grateful to Danny Adams, the manager at the farm, as well as David Gamble and Richard Purser from the Family Care Trust for taking the time to give Katy and I such an interesting tour. It really is an extremely impressive initiative, and I will always be happy to offer my help and support in the future.

Originally published in the Solihull Mail, 30/05/19.