Future Roots provides an innovative health and social care service that uses farming to support the wellbeing ofmen with conditions such as Dementia and Parkinsons. This is set to expand across the UK,thanks to National Lottery funding.

Future Roots has been awarded£370,000 to provide a working farm environment to many more participants. The organisation which is based on a working farm in Dorset aims to recruit and train ten other care farms, using a proven model of enablement and engagement. They already offer the opportunity for 40/50 men to socialise and pursue outdoor interests and retain skills in a suported club environment.

The expansion of Countrymen Clubs across Great Britain on existing care farms will enable likeminded peers to benefit from working together and access the outdoors as an alternative to the more traditional day care service.

 Currently the majority of men, aged 50-90 years have had positive experiences of farming or horticulture but many others have a military background[TV1] . The men vary in their levels of mobility and memory but together they are able to be fully involved in the farm activities, feeding animals, wood work, horticulture, general farm maintenance or just chew over the cud and reminisce.

Dan, 70, has been a member of the Countrymen’s Club for 4 years and now acts as a volunteer at the club. This allows him to engage in the many work activities he used to do before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Using his experience as a farmer and proficient gardener, Dan puts together the hanging flower baskets and supports some of the men less able than himself. Dan said, “It helped me and my wife a lot. I don’t know what would have happened if the Countrymen’s Club didn’t exist.”

Julie Plumley founder of Future Roots and the Countrymen’s Club said “Our aim has always been to offer person centred opportunities to enable people to engage in activities that will enhance wellbeing by stimulating the mind and body. We are delighted to receive National Lottery funding as this will enable us to expand this unique concept to other parts of the country. We would like to hear from farms who want to set up a Countrymen’s club especially those who already have experience of delivering services to the community and who are a member of Care Farming UK”

Dr Andrew Mayers, is a Principal Academic at Bournemouth University who specialises in mental health. He has worked with Future Roots on several projects in recent years, including the Countrymen’s Club. He said “I am very impressed with the work that Julie and the Future Roots team do. This project has shown significant improvements for older men in their mental health, physical wellbeing and cognition. All too often, older men in rural communities, especially those who have retired from agricultural occupations, face loneliness and isolation. Not only does the Countrymen’s Club provide these men with new opportunities to socialise, it enables them to use the skills they have learned throughout life to contribute to the farm, and can help teach others.”

For more information about the Countrymen’s club please visit [TV2]   www.futureroots.net

Andrew Mayers