We were asked by one of our funders to prepare some case studies with questions to our volunteers. This is one of them, which gives a good insight into how we support volunteers. We have used Dan's real name, with his permission, so others can connect with his experience.
Dan is 25 years old, living within 10 miles of Rhubarb Farm. Recovering from drug and alcohol misuse, he has mild learning disability and mental ill health.
Q1. When did you hear about Rhubarb Farm and how?
‘I heard about the Farm, that's Rhubarb Farm about a year ago, it was in May last year. I heard about it through word of mouth really I suppose. I was in the pub getting drunk and got talking to people and it was a girl who already came to the Farm to volunteer. I was drinking with her fella. I gave the girl my number as she said she would get someone to phone me and tell me about the Farm. I think it was about a day or so later and then the Drug and Alcohol Worker from Rhubarb Farm telephoned me. She told me about the Farm and said we do lots of nice things at the Farm and that I can talk to her about my drinking, because I drink a lot. About a week later I went to Rhubarb Farm'.
How long have you been going to Rhubarb Farm?
‘About a year and a bit. (first day at Rhubarb Farm 19/05/2015) I stopped coming to the Farm a few months ago for a few weeks as I went to a project closer to where I live but I missed the Farm so now come to the Farm and go to the other project for a few hours on Monday'.
How has the project impacted positively on your life?
‘Its alright, it's good is the Farm because it's helped me lots. I get lots of advice, like about drink, that was me biggest down fall and I know from the Farm what they tell me I shouldn't drink so much. The Farm has stopped me taking cocaine and MCAT, I took it for about 15 months. I came to the Farm and I got talking with the Drug and Alcohol Worker. She told me a lot about drugs and the effects of cocaine and MCAT. It's ruined my nose as it's constantly stinging but I might be worse if I didn't come to Rhubarb Farm. I still drink a bit but I wouldn't take drugs now I know what they do. It's good that they helped me at the Farm'.
What kinds of things do you do at the Farm?
‘Digging, I like digging but get a bit tired sometimes so then I do other things like filling some pots with compost and putting seeds in pots so they grow and get bigger. I come to the Farm on Thursday and I help packing vegetables into the bags and then customers buy the bags. I like doing handy work around the Farm. I don't really like the chickens that much so don't really go to the chickens but I give them lots of cabbage and weeds and things'.
Would you recommend Rhubarb Farm to other residents?
‘Oh yeah, I've told other people about it. A friend of mine has just got out of prison and I've told him it will do him some good as it will help with drug problems and drink problems that he's got and my friend has other things like criminal offences and I told him it will help him knuckle down. I've told him voluntary work at the Farm will help and the Farm don't mind about past things and will help him with his temper. The staff are good because they tell you things and help with things like, everything you need help with. And, it gives me something to do so I don't go to the pub all day'.
In May 2016 a team from DWP came to do a corporate day at the Farm. This was the email that one of them sent to our staff.
"Thank you for making us all feel so welcome yesterday, we were all impressed with what you all do at Rhubarb Farm. I think we were all overwhelmed with your stories and what Rhubarb Farm actually does for people who have need to go there, you are all heroes.
I hope we did enough to make our visit worthwhile, with being a bloke sat in an office all day it was a nice change to get out and to meet everyone there but I could tell how much I was lagging behind you regulars.
We will feed back to our colleagues about our day and hopefully encourage a few more to come and see Rhubarb Farm themselves.
If you let me know when the leaflets for the Langwith Show are ready I'll nip up and get some to distribute at work.
Many thanks for such a memorable day."
Andy Lock, Head of Operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust: “The on-going success of Rhubarb Farm is testament to a forward-thinking organisation working in the coalfields communities. Not only does the Farm have a direct impact on those that volunteer but also on the wider community, which is what we want to champion.”
We make a difference to people's lives
“Having visited Rhubarb Farm in April 2014, I was impressed by the hard work and diversity of volunteers from across the local community who all worked together to achieve a common goal. This is what “whole community” recovery is all about: reducing the stigma of the challenges faced, whether mental ill-health, physical disabilities, poverty or drug and alcohol problems, to build a strong, healthy and inclusive community. The outcome is inspirational, and the potential impact is far greater than the sum of its parts.” Rosalie Weetman, Senior Commissioning Manager for Substance Misuse, Derbyshire Public Health
"I am back at work on 1st of April starting with 2 mornings then increasing over 3 months to full time. I shall keep coming to Rhubarb as often as I can, as I really enjoy the atmosphere and all the staff have been really welcoming and worked around what I can manage. I hope still to be a part of Rhubarb on a regular basis. You have a fabulous team you can be proud of, who played an important role in getting me back into my job and helping me regain my confidence." Vicky Wilsford
October 29th 2013 from Amanda Asher, Work Buddy
Help to Work Plus:- "I am e-mailing you as I would like to share my feelings and gratitude with you regarding a client and your organisation.
In November last year I was referred a young lady from Job Centre Plus with severe mental health problems, she was agoraphobic (unable to go anywhere without her mum), had really low confidence and struggled to communicate with people, she had never worked, had no social life or friends and basically had a poor quality of life owing to her health. However, she was determined to improve her health and engaged well with me.
At this time I was not sure which course of action would be best considering her support needs, but knowing how supportive Rhubarb Farm was and how quick and easy it was to refer someone to your organisation we discussed this and visited the Farm. Within a week she was attending the Farm with help with travel-training from myself and your staff, your staff meeting her at the gates to reduce any anxiety of entering an unfamiliar place. Since starting to volunteer with your organisation she can travel alone, she speaks to strangers and supports other volunteers, she has also gone on to do training and assisting with events. A few months ago I expressed my concerns of my project ending and what support would be available to her once I had left, with the help of your wonderful staff she is now part of Talent Match and is hoping to commence employment in the New Year. She has expressed how different her life is now and what a huge impact Rhubarb Farm has made on her life and the purpose she now has.
I have been an advisor/support worker for over nine years supporting people with multiple barriers closer to employment. Many of the barriers have been mental ill health. I have never experienced such fantastic improvement in all the years I have been doing this job until this particular case, it really has moved me knowing that together and with this lady's determination, we have helped to bring a purpose and quality of life to someone, the satisfaction is overwhelming. This particular young lady has had some of the worst barriers I have encountered during my time in this field and she is also the most successful of my clients in terms of how far she has improved/client journey. I cannot express enough how astounded I am and also how grateful I am to your organisation and staff, please keep up the good work as you have made such a big difference to a person's life and future opportunities.
I would also like to share this with you, this is a piece the young lady wrote for my organisation:
“Before I started receiving help from Amanda at Phoenix Enterprises/Shaw Trust/Disability Dynamics I lived a very isolated life where the only social contact I had was with my family members. I thought I had no real prospects of working or having some sort of life outside my house. Now thanks to Amanda I volunteer at Rhubarb Farm where I am getting outside the house and also interact with new people. I've come a long way and I believe I now have a future and hope that I will enter the job market in the very near future”.
Alan Charles, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, awarded Rhubarb Farm £5,000 for a new polytunnel to enable us to provide more facilities for our work with ex-offenders. After sending him a brief update on our work in October 2013, he wrote:
Hi Jennie, thank you for sending this brilliant update. It is really good to hear such positive progress and the difference that you making to people's lives. Both Hardyal [Dhindsa –Deputy PCC] and I are very impressed with the work that you are all doing at Rhubarb Farm, keep it up and we look forward to working with you in the future."
"I have seen your advert today for the Drug and Alcohol worker and was actually not looking for a new job! However, I have fallen in love with Rhubarb Farm after spending most of the evening on your website! I am currently working for a charity and extremely happy in my role but I just may have to apply!
I just wanted to say what a wonderful project and such an exciting one! Good luck with all you do."
"I love it here because you don't discriminate against anyone, you take anyone who wants or needs you" Volunteer with epilepsy
"Thank you for the great work you are doing for the community, it is most inspirational" Malkan Enterprises, Nether Langwith
" That was the most unusual meeting I have ever had" Elaine Reddish, Multi Agency Team Manager, Derbyshire County Council, after being shown round Rhubarb Farm.
In May 2012, when a medical emergency occurred at Rhubarb Farm, the Emergency Care Practitioner, Chris Mullard, wrote this accolade about Rhubarb Farm's care practise:
"Given information on patient from staff on sheet, pre-printed with all patient details. Very useful as patient was unresponsive and non-communicative on arrival. Very good team response in general from all at Rhubarb Farm."
"I love doing the courses at Rhubarb Farm to teach and inspire confidence (as I have over the last 10 years through ill health and mental health issues lost all my self-esteem). It has been a long time since I enjoyed anything as much as Rhubarb Farm as I do not see many people other than my husband and Glen (my best friend) - so life is very lonely for me. " Andrea
"I've just read your latest newsletter and just wanted to comment on the amazing progress you've made! It all sounds fantastic with the extra staff you have taken on and the links with probation and prison! I'm really impressed! Congratulations! It's so fantastic for me to see the growth of Rhubarb Farm over the life of my project and to continue the links with you." Sheila Platt, Hearty Lives Bolsover Project Co-ordinator, NHS Derbyshire County
At an Awards Ceremony in Worksop on 14th October 2011 Rhubarb Farm won an award from the Bassetlaw Physical Activity and Health Partnership, in the Inclusive Schemes category, for our work in promoting physical activity and health in Bassetlaw. We are delighted that our work has been so acclaimed at this early stage in our development. Thank you Bassetlaw!
Jennie Street accepting an award in October 2011 from the Bassetlaw Physical Activity and Health Partnership for promoting healthy activities.
"Thank you for hosting a wonderful volunteering day at Rhubarb Farm last Friday - we all had a great time." Bhadra Brown, Volunteer Manager, Department for Work and Pensions, Central England
"Attended 8th July with 6 young people to carry out some enrichment volunteering - a really enjoyable day with lots of tasks planned which met the needs of our learners. Staff and volunteers welcoming and friendly. " Elly Suffolk ACORN Training, Ripley.
"Lovely site with lots of potential and great future plans" Visitor
"A worthwhile project with a very relevant focus on elements of wellbeing and primary prevention. The Committee agreed that this was a well researched application with a well thought-out project plan."
The British Heart Foundation awarding Rhubarb Farm a grant for healthy eating courses.
"Please can I continue to come here each week after my community service order hours are paid off?" Volunteer
"A lovely atmosphere. Nice to have something like this on our doorstep" Langwith Resident who came to the Family Fun Day on 23rd July 2011
"Fantastic fresh veg" Langwith Junction resident at Family Fun Day
"Everything friendly and brill activities" Tanya Nolan at the Family Fun Day
"I just wanted to say a big thank you from our team for a wonderful day. I think time out of the office doing Community 10,000 is a valuable experience both in terms of seeing how our customers work with the community and what is out their to help them in their journey towards finding a job. I think the time we spent as a team helped us clear out a few cobwebs we had and I will definitely be recommending it to others!" Sue Holmes, Department of Work and Pensions, after volunteering day in September 2011
"Thanks for an informative 4 weeks and for giving me the enthusiasm to getting going with my allotment. I feel like I will at least stand a fighting chance of producing some produce next year. Rhubarb Farm is FAB" Debbie Reynolds, who attended the Growing Vegetables course, Sept-Oct 2011
"As a recipient of the Vegware Community Fund, Rhubarb Farm have been a true joy to work with. They have been consistently professional and friendly, and provide excellent monthly updates which convey the incredible passion and dedication they have for the organisation."
Grace Brownlie, Vegware, which provides Rhubarb Farm with a monthly grant.