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Thrift Farm potentially saved by unknown provider

Thrift Farm potentially saved by unknown provider

Published by Charlotte Fisher at 5:44am 4th September 2019. (Updated at 9:21am 7th September 2019)

A Buckinghamshire farm, which offers work to disabled people, could be saved by unknown provider. 

There were plans to scrap Thrift Farm if someone couldn't be found to run it but Bucks County Council are looking to approve a business plan next week. 

The 52-acre site near Milton Keynes provides work experience and training opportunities for nearly 70 learning-disabled adults and young people.

Thrift Farm has been operating as a supported employment and day opportunities care farm for the past 40 years and the 'Save Thrift Farm' campaign was started to save it.

Earlier this year the Buckinghamshire Disability Service also expressed their concerns about the proposals. 

BuDs submitted a report to the Council pointing out the many options to develop Thrift Farm and find new ways to fund it.

Ann Hedges, who leads BuDS’ learning disability and autism project, said at the time:

“We feel this planned closure is premature and deeply unambitious.

"BuDS feels it would be a terrible disservice to learning-disabled people and their families to close this vital and valued service before all options for its future have been explored.

"An abrupt closure would be a catastrophic failure of service-provision”.

A consultation took place between February and April 2019 and there were 10,416 engagements:

  • 10,111 signatures across three petitions (6,889; 2,677; 545)
  • 152 survey responses received from customers (85), service users and their
  • families (50) and others (17)
  • 37 attendees at service user focus groups
  • 17 video diary responses from service users
  • 37 attendees at the engagement meetings
  • 57 additional written responses
  • 5 phone calls

Tracie Bailey's son has been using the service for over a decade and set up the 'Save Thrift Farm' campaign.

Tracie also started a petition that had over 10,000 signatures, she told us she was delighted when she found out it could be saved:

"I'm over the moon, I did have a little tear.

"It means everything, not just to me and Kane, for all of the other children, all of the other people with learning disabilities, all of the friends and family of the farm - just everybody.

"It is such a valuable commodity.

"Until you have been to Thrift Farm and seen first hand what can be achieved there, I think it's impossible to put a measure on it."

Tracie also added that she is excited for the future:

"I hope that whoever that the provider is that they carry on with the good work, improve the facilities there, improve the resources that are available, improve the outcomes for the young people and older people that attend and maybe just bring it up a bit more into the future."

Bucks County Council's cabinet will be meeting next Monday (9th Sep) to:

  • seek approval for the proposed business plan from the unknown provider (known as Provider A)
  • and for Thrift Farm to be transitioned to Provider A for ongoing provision and operation.
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