Cash boost for High Peak farm that helps drug and alcohol addicts recover

ENJOYING LIFE AGAIN -- happy users of the Beardwood Natural Living Project at the farm's picnic area.
ENJOYING LIFE AGAIN -- happy users of the Beardwood Natural Living Project at the farm's picnic area.

A project, based in High Peak, that helps people recover from alcohol or drug addiction is to receive a share of nearly £200,000 worth of funding from Derbyshire County Council.

The funding will help eight projects across the county to help the addicts rebuild their lives and make fresh starts by developing new skills, gaining confidence and moving into employment.

The Beardwood Natural Living Project, a community-interest company founded in 2011, provides support through social farming on a 13-acre smallholding at Beardwood Farm, Furness Vale. And the council’s cash will be invaluable as its team teaches hands-on skills via activities relating to animal care, farm maintenance, conservation, gardening and the countryside.

Among those to have benefited at Beardwood is Chris Gordan, from Glossop, who said: “If you see no potential in yourself and have been out of the community for a while, projects like this are perfect. It’s a great opportunity to do basic things and learn new skills with people who have been through the same as you and won’t judge you or make you feel bad.”

Chris enjoys being out in the open at Beardwood. He has taken part in a number of activities, but mainly enjoys planting and growing vegetables.

“I enjoy the peace,” he added. “There are no sirens or noise when I’m out there, and learning about the environment is simple but fascinating. I never thought I’d learn new skills again, but the staff are brilliant and so non-judgmental.

“When you fall into a dark place, you forget who you are and what you can do. Beardwood helps me rediscover the things I’m capable of. It’s amazing how important the feeling of normality is when you’ve been out of touch with a community for any length of time. Anyone who’s become isolated because of addiction should come and try it just for a day and see the good it can do.”

Beardwood Farm practises traditional farming and houses sheep, pigs, hens, geese, rabbits and even a barn owl, plus a large vegetable garden and an orchard. It helps disadvantaged people of all ages and backgrounds, encouraging them to connect with nature.

The council’s cabinet member for health and communities, Coun Dave Allen, said: “Recovery from addiction is not straightforward, and different people find that different things work for them. Giving them long-term practical skills is vital in giving them the chance to live healthier, happier lives. It’s good to see funding helping such innovative schemes, and we are pleased to support them.”

The funding has a financial benefit too. For every £1 spent on drug and alcohol treatment in Derbyshire, there is a return on investment of £4.08 that is saved through reducing healthcare bills and welfare benefits.

Among other projects to share in the £200,000 windfall is RISE at High Peak Food Bank at Buxton and Gamesley, which offers training to help people get back into work.