Upset after man with autism loses volunteering job at a Sutton farm

Gordon Wall upset Skegby Horticultural unit where his autistic son is working is closing.
Gordon Wall upset Skegby Horticultural unit where his autistic son is working is closing.

A man with autism has lost his volunteering job at a farm which gave him “self worth” after it was earmarked for homes.

Andrew Wall, aged 39, from Ryedale Avenue, Mansfield, has been offered the chance to transfer from Skegby Horticultural Unit, off Skegby Lane, Sutton, to a different farm which is open to the public.

However, his parents said he suffers from high anxiety when he meets people, so the move to Brooke Farm, Linby, would be unsuitable for him.

Skegby Horticultural Unit grows part of the produce sold from Nottinghamshire County Council-run Brooke Farm.

But the unit, which provides employment and training for people with learning disabilities, is set to close in December, after the site was earmarked for housing.

So far five volunteers have expressed a wish to transfer to Brooke Farm and three have secured placements.

But Gordon Wall, Andrew’s father, said his family feels let down that the service will close.

He said: “It is an tremendous facility. He will never be able to work and it gave him invaluable self worth.

“It got him up every day and he had a purpose.

“There are not a lot of places which provide jobs for people with learning disabilities around here.”

The changes to the farm came after it was announced in February that the site in Linby will receive an £353,000 investment.

Council bosses said they hoped this “will increase the range of work experience opportunities available to trainees”.

Mr Wall said they have taken the decision to take Andrew out of work now.

Christopher, Mr Wall’s other son, 37, who is also autistic, was also recently laid off from his volunteer role at the Pleasley Landmark Resource and Community Centre.

The centre closed last week after the charity which ran it collapsed.

Mr Wall said: “Both of my sons are outstanding citizens who volunteer – they don’t like sitting around and would like to be able to carry on.”

Councillor Stuart Wallace, chairman of the county council’s adult social care and committee, said: “We are currently working with the 11 people with additional needs who attend the Skegby site to find alternative services.”