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Muckers Muck In

Today we welcomed another Mucker to the fold as Dani earned her hard earned mucker hoody.

What is a Mucker, I hear you ask?

A Mucker is a volunteer who has taken on a leadership role and is committed to helping and mentoring other volunteers. The Mucker idea came to our volunteers a few years ago as everyone called each other mucker (well, ok it was mainly Paul A but it started spreading) and so it was used to describe the volunteers who became peer mentors.

Our Muckers are farm volunteers that have usually experienced poor mental health, trauma, life limiting injury or social isolation (or sometimes a combination of them) that made their lives difficult to live the way they want to. They are people who were determined to change or improve their lives so came to the Farm to help out. Volunteering helped them to feel better about themselves, learn new skills, feel useful again and connect with others. Slowly, slowly their true selves emerged and they started to help to care for others and took the many training opportunities available here. Now they are the backbones of the project, taking on projects and responsibilities, greeting visitors and helping to welcome and induct new volunteers. Their experiences make them incredibly compassionate and probably the best qualified people to help other volunteers facing similar issues. They turn their past experiences into a superpower to help others and to get people talking! And as we all know, it is good talk.

Our muckers wear blue hoodies so look out for them when you visit. Check out Dani's experiences below.

'When I came to the Farm I had very bad mental health and was barely eating, I felt useless and experiences I had had with different agencies made me feel like I couldn't do anything or trust people. A support worker found out I loved horses so asked me about volunteering at the Farm. I have autism, although I wasn't diagnosed until I was 25 and had spent my whole life thinking I didn't fit and there was stuff wrong with me. I remember on my first day here I wouldn't talk to anyone or look at them but we got chatting about animals. I loved it here! There's a nice atmosphere, people are friendly and they see the stuff you can do, not the stuff you can't do...and there's animals!

I have really found my voice and confidence since coming here and I now help others. I've done loads of training Mental Health First Aid, Autism Awareness, Food Hygiene, Anti Racism, First Aid, Transgender Awareness and Safeguarding and some of these are qualifications. I've also taught the donkeys to be more comfortable being brushed and other new volunteers how to do this. The donkeys are much better behaved now and even pick up their feet for the farrier. It's important because if their feet aren't cleaned they can go lame. I still only really go out the house to come here. If I didn't come here I wouldn't have met all these people and learnt to trust my own voice again. They even ask me to come and help with extra days in the holidays because I like working with children and they can see something I'm good at. I've asked about playwork training and to learn sign language next. I like setting and achieving targets in my development plan. My folder is filling up with certificates and I'm dead proud of it and myself'

We thank our amazing funders The National Lottery Community Fund and player's of the National Lottery for making this project happen.


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