This week I had a really interesting visit with the managing director of Rhubarb Farm at Langwith, Jenny Street (pictured). I also met the staff and volunteers to hear more about this great social enterprise, which supports people with issues like addiction or learning difficulties to gain confidence, new skills, and very often employment.
Whilst it’s actually a couple of miles outside my Mansfield constituency I had heard it’s positive reputation for support and rehabilitation, working with people from Mansfield as well as a large chunk of north Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and wanted to pay a visit to see how it might fit in to our homelessness agenda, and what experiences they might share.
One of my concerns as I’ve investigated our local homelessness provision over the last few months, is that many people seem to cycle round the system, unable to stay off drugs or unable to sustain a tenancy for a variety of other reasons. Inevitably people’s reasons for being homeless are often complicated and difficult to overcome, and so it’s often not enough to just find somebody a house, they need support to deal with some of those issues first, and that needs to be ongoing for the long term.
Rhubarb Farm has a great record of providing a kind of purpose for people, supporting them to overcome issues, have a better outlook and state of mind, and then to stay that way. I met some of the volunteers who told me their very positive experiences of overcoming depression, abuse and other personal problems, and many former service users are now on the payroll supporting others to take the same journey.
I’m really pleased that I sought out Rhubarb Farm, as I’ve taken away a really positive experience of what’s possible to achieve (even without shedloads of money), and it’s something we should seek to replicate. I’d urge everyone to look them up online or on Facebook, and to support this organisation if you can.