Wellies-On C.I.C

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Wellies-On C.I.C's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Wellies-On C.I.C is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP


Highlighting best practice
Founder and Managing Director
Ellie Goff
Occupational therapy students learning about
the importance of animal encounters
Wellies-On offer the therapeutic use of farming
practices to inform and increase the wellbeing of a
wide range of users. Their services span education;
health and social care; and work with adults or children with
mental health issues, learning disabilities and special educational
needs, among others. Ellie Goff moved to the 40-acre site in
2001 and established the care farm, formerly known as Butterfly
Lodge Education, in 2005. She expands on the benefits of care
farming and describes the new initiatives they are implementing
to reach isolated members of the community.
Care farming, sometimes known as social farming, is the therapeutic use of
farming practices to improve people’s lives. This can take a number of different
forms, with some beneficiaries accessing a local farm for one or two days a week
through to a unit that uses the farm solely to deliver its service.
Previously known as Butterfly Lodge Education, we opened as a care farm in
October 2005. Our traditional 40-acre working farm is based in Abberton, in the
heart of the Essex countryside. Our beneficiaries include adults and children with
mental health issues, learning disabilities and special educational needs, as well as
recovering drug and alcohol abusers, dementia groups, homeless people and older
adults. As a community interest company, we see the value of involvement with
local businesses and other community groups.We also host business networking
and wellbeing programmes for the benefit of corporate teams andindividuals.
Person-centred care is at the heart of all we do. Our staff include highly qualified
teachers, mental health professionals, ex-military personnel and support staff, each
»Managing Director: Ellie Goff
»Founded in 2005
»Based in rural Essex
»Services: Care farming – the
therapeutic use of farming
practices to improve people’s
»No. of employees: 11
»No. of users: 60 a week
offering a unique perspective to help
our clients to achieve their goals. We
work with small groups or on a one-
to-one basis. While many of our clients
work towards formal qualifications or
accreditation, all are aiming towards
achieving their potential.
Combining education with
the outdoors
In 2001, my husband Warren and I
moved onto the 40-acre site. It was
our dream to make a life for ourselves
on the family farm by building a home
and continuing the family’s dairy goat
business. In 2005, having spent five
years working within educational
establishments and experiencing several
Ofsted inspections, I was finding it hard
to continue to feel the passion that
I once had. I decided to leave formal
teaching and return to the farm to
combine my love for teaching with my
love for animals and the greatoutdoors.
By offering visits to the farm,
Idiscovered the possible engagement
with students that this offered.
On one group visit, a young lady
who was unable to walk or speak
attended the farm in her wheelchair.
She was invited into the stable yard
among the Shetland ponies, who
were free to roam the area. Merlin,
a rescue, walked up to the young
lady and rested his head in her lap.
Her face lit up in a way that is almost
indescribable. Defining moments like
these are the reason that we exist
today, working within education and
health and social care, with a passion
for making a difference.
I became certified through the
Countryside Educational Visits
Accreditation Scheme and completed
numerous courses to enhance my
delivery and practice. I took on staff,
and together we became a centre for
qualifications through the open college
network, as well as delivering City and
Guilds qualifications. I subsequently
became involved in the National Care
Farming Initiative. I worked as both
chair and vice-chair of the Care Farming
East Anglia Group and became a trustee
of Care Farming UK, contributing to the
development of what is today known as
“social farms and community gardens”. Some of the Wellies-
On team out in the
Merlin, a
pony, walked
up to the
young lady
and rested his
head in her
lap. Her face
lit up
Highlighting best practice
During this time, I increased local
awareness through public speaking
engagements and networking
opportunities. We created strong links
with the University of Essex and took
on our first role-emerging placement
student in 2009. We continue to have
university placement students, helping
them to widen their experience while
offering us the opportunity to reflect on
our own practice on a continualbasis.
Reaching isolated members of
the community
On the farm, we have a team of equine
and mental health professionals who
deliver equine-assisted psychotherapy
and learning. We work with horses
using an innovative approach that
requires individuals or groups to
apply skills such as problem solving,
communication, responsibility, team
work and confidence. In 2016, we also
developed the “Flat Pack Farm” – an
initiative designed to reach the isolated
within our community. This project has
been funded by many grant givers and
initially involved visiting care homes and
dementia units. We now go out weekly
to a number of alternative education
provisions, as well as visiting other
isolated groups in our community.
The continued success of our
organisation over the last 13 years
has been based on a fantastic team of
11 professionals. We have remained
adaptable and flexible as we have
navigated funding cuts within
education and health and social care.
Our funding is annual and stability
is hard, despite our dedication to
quality. We work closely with external
agencies and develop our professional
relationships to maintain best practice
and support from our community.
The last decade has seen a huge
change in mental health and wellbeing
awareness. As a culture, we have
started to recognise the possibility
of recovery through experiential
therapy. Care farming is a community-
based non-clinical approach to care.
Currently, there is a major issue for
16-19-year-olds who are suffering with
anxiety. Funding is not yet available
for them to receive the much-needed
support to complete their education.
We need clinical commissioning groups
to recognise the value of nature-
based interventions, which can have
a tremendous impact on the mental
health not only of our children but also
of future adults in our communities.
I cannot stress how important it is
for primary aged intervention and
prevention to take place as part of
their learning experience.
Sadly, there is no consistent referral
mechanism in place across England to
provide these services as an accepted
pathway of education and therapy.
This is necessary for the stability and
successful future of the care farming
industry. This will ensure that we can
change individuals’ challenges into
their own unique successes.
there is a
major issue for
16-19 year
olds who are
suffering from
Funding is not
yet available
for them
Primary school children
learning how to milk a

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from the prime minister.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister