It isn’t often as researchers you get to spend a day on a farm learning about a different way to address loneliness and/or deteriorating physical health, but that is exactly what we did. Spending a day with the Countrymen club opened our eyes to the benefits of offering men a chance to get involved in farming activities – feeding animals, tending to vegetables, tidying up a barn – whilst enjoying some fresh air and getting some gentle exercise. Giving people purposeful activities to undertake whilst in the company of others gets over the awkwardness that some people, often men, experience when they attend traditional social care. Offering those activities in a familiar environment create a comfortable and relaxed experience.
During our day it was a real pleasure to hear about the variety of backgrounds, knowledge and skills of the men who attend. Staff and volunteers get to know the men’s interests and backgrounds and put careful thought into creating an experience tailored to that, based on what the men might enjoy, their background and skills, adapting where needed to ensure the men can access those things safely.
Julie’s personal experience with her own Dad and professional experience as a social worker, along with her abundant passion and energy, are all evident in the impressive set up at Countrymen. It was clear how much the men enjoy being there and we certainly enjoyed hanging out on the farm!
Researchers at the University of Bristol