CAN Bought a Farm

CAN Bought a Farm

Local Charity for children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues, CAN (Compass Advocacy Network) is delighted to announce they have been successful in their bid for Planning Permission for a Historic Farm, outside Ballymoney.

CAN is embarking on a period of exciting change. After years of renting properties, in October they purchased their first “Home” to enable them to future proof and expand the services they offer to the people of Causeway Coast and Glens” and last week, the Planning Officers at Causeway Coast and Glens approved their move!

CEO of CAN, Janet Schofield said;

“Lislagan Farm is so much more than a new space for CAN – it’s our plan for a Post-Covid world and an investment in our people who are at the core of everything we do.”

“Lislagan will be a safe place to meet, explore, play, rest, re-boot, socialise, learn and have fun - bringing light back into the lives of our children, young people and adults with learning disabilities and autism, their families and carers.”

CAN has a track record in providing creative, cost-effective solutions and developing services which put people in the centre.

During Covid19, the need for outdoor space became critical and CAN is responding to the wishes of its members, families, carers in ensuring they can accommodate the future needs and accommodation requirements for services by investing in a large site with room for the expansion of opportunities, focusing on utilising outdoor space where possible.

Lislagan Farm will be a ground-breaking facility for children and adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues to avail of social and leisure, fun and friendship, health and well-being initiatives and therapeutic interventions.

The site is easily within commutable distance from the town centre (with the Base and Retail premises remaining in the towns of Ballymoney, Ballymena and Coleraine) and the charity has a minibus for town pick-ups.

Janet said:

“Covid hit our people hard and more than ever before we came to realise how essential access to outdoor space is. We believe we would create a community asset – a HAVEN, if you like - on the outskirts of Ballymoney.”

Lislagan Farm will be an inclusive, safe space, located in a mature landscape with nature trails, an orchard, polytunnels growing flowers/vegetable produce and a variety of poultry and small animals.

“We have already been able to secure some funding from Causeway Coast and Glens, the National Lottery and Live Here, Love Here NI to build raised beds and create an orchard and paths. The response from our local councillors, funders and the local people has been unbelievable and we are so grateful for this opportunity”

In addition to the therapeutic and well-being elements, the site will accommodate the provision of an expanded training programme providing participants with the soft skills, health and safety and work experience required to become prepared for work through processing, horticulture and land management.

Chrissie, Base Participant said:

“We've so many things we can't do now because of Covid but Lislagan is huge, we can go out and play football, look after animals, have BBQ's and maybe build a pizza oven. I can't wait to see what we can do.”

Day Respite will be a critical element of Lislagan Farm, as will be the provision of day opportunities for providing adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues as an alternative to traditional day care (day centres). This site will enable us to respond to the changing demographic of need – including working with those individuals with complex needs, forensic backgrounds and challenging behaviour.

Working with animals is known to have therapeutic benefits and CAN intend to explore options for acquiring and looking after a small no. of sheep, pigs and chickens initially, with potential to expand with experience and the development of the land and facilities.

Planning allowing, we hope to further develop our Respite and Short Breaks programme through the provision of a small number of overnight respite and short breaks on site to meet the needs of families and carers.

In the short-term, we are hoping to provide accommodation on site through the conversion of the original farm buildings and in the future (pending planning), through the creation of a ‘Respite Village’.

Geoffrey Moffett

Written by Geoffrey Moffett

Content Creator for Causeway Coast Community.
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