Lorica Trust took the lease on East Clayton Farm from the National Trust over 17 years ago. Since then, the derelict outbuildings have been transformed into housing for eight disabled adults, and the farmhouse converted into flats for people moving on from homelessness.
Over the years, the farm has developed into a space for marginalised young people who are struggling in mainstream education, to feel at home, learn new skills and improve their confidence and wellbeing, utilising the land and farm animals.
“We have seen our student numbers grow since June 2020, with over 48 very vulnerable young people engaging with the farm on a weekly basis. The majority have been one-to-one referrals requiring a lot of support, care and guidance following the impact of Covid-19. The new building has opened up so many opportunities for our students and has given us the ability to increase our offering. It is the hub we so desperately needed.” –Lorica Trust
As levels of exclusions have increased over the years, so has the need for Lorica’s support. To cope with the growing demand, it needed to improve facilities on site and ensure the farm’s sustainability.
A grant from Benefact Trust in 2019 enabled Lorica to make a big step and start work on a new hub at the heart of the farm, offering a new indoor learning space, meeting and office space, and socialising areas for vulnerable students, which could be open 365 days of the year – rain or shine. On top of all this, it would house a Changing Places toilet, a fully accessible toilet catering for people with complex disabilities.
Fast forward to 2021 and the building is complete! The construction of the Learning and Development Centre was quick moving, despite the challenges of Covid-19, and it has come at a time when young people need it most.
Since January 2021, the centre has been open five days a week. The students gather for meals, talk, paint, and reconnect after what has been a challenging year.