Suffolk care farm for mental health clients

Potsford Farm, Letheringham
Image caption Potsford has mixed farming including vegetable and fruit growing

A therapeutic care farm has been officially opened in Suffolk for people with mental health issues.

Potsford Farm at Letheringham has been set up to provide a service which allows patients or clients to work with animals and crops.

Nathan Nobbs, psychiatric nurse at the farm, said: "It leads to improved self-esteem, self-worth and confidence."

Suffolk County Council is aiming to oversee the establishment of 10 care farms by 2012.

Suffolk social services or the NHS refers patients to the farm and pays for their therapy.

'Peaceful and therapeutic'

Those who attend work with staff and volunteers for up to three days a week at the 200 acre (81 hectares) site near the River Deben.

Mr Nobbs, a former ward manager at St Clements Hospital in Ipswich, said: "Just being outside and surrounded by animals and this environment, people won't believe the impact that can have on people with mental health and learning difficulties," he said.

"The relationship these people can have with the animals is completely non-judgemental, it's peaceful and just so therapeutic."

The farm has Red Poll cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, horses and a livery yard.

The owners, Stephen and Marion Fletcher, bought the farm in the 1990s and ran it as a business.

Mr Fletcher said: "It was falling into disrepair, needed an injection of capital and hopefully it's set up for the next decade or so.

"The concept is that we will grow these things and package and sell them as a product from the farm."

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