A new day care centre which helps adults with additional needs through animal therapy, horticulture and cookery has opened in Warwickshire thanks to £615,000 funding from Unity Trust Bank.
Christina Robinson and Martine Verweij, who own Grangy Huis Ltd, used the loan to turn a former B&B on the outskirts of Hockley Heath into Rose Cottage Care Farm - a retreat for people who need support for autism, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome, dementia or depression.
With a variety of animals such as goats, dogs, rabbits, Guinea pigs, tortoises and ducks, along with a sensory garden, polytunnels and vegetable patches, users can enjoy an array of experiences to help them develop.
Martine said: “If people with additional needs don’t have a focus or a goal they can go backwards really quickly.
“Looking after the animals or tending to the gardens gives people a feeling of purpose.
“Animals offer affection and don’t discriminate, and animal therapy is a concept that is proven to bring happiness.
“Our clients grow vegetables and cook with them, so we eat our own food for lunch which is lovely, and we have lots of crafts and activities to help stimulate people.”
Christina, a care professional, took over Te Hira Care Home Ltd in Ruby in 2008, and Martine, whose background is in the third sector, became joint owner in 2021.
The women were passionate about opening a ‘care farm’ for personal reasons - Christina felt her brother-in-law wouldn’t have died so young from dementia if he’d had more suitable day care, and Martine wanted to improve the levels of support to match those available in The Netherlands, where she was born.
Martina said: “Unity was recommended to us because they support good causes.
“Knowing that the bank is sustainable and will only get involved in projects that they believe in made us feel really good.
“Our relationship managers have been amazing. They’ve always been there for us and that was really important in the beginning because the transaction wasn’t straightforward and took 12 months to complete.
“They gave us the right back up at the right time. They guided us through and were really helpful.
“Without Unity we wouldn't be here, and we wouldn't be able to help all these people.”
Amy McDermott, Relationship Manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “With Christina and Martine’s wealth of experience and passion for delivering the best care possible, they have created a wonderful, calming and stimulating facility where people with additional needs can lead fulfilling lives.
“At Unity, we only lend to organisations that help improve the lives of local communities and that is exactly what Grangy Huis is doing; we were delighted to support this development.”
Rose Cottage can accommodate up to 20 clients a day and has created around 20 new jobs, matching the right skills with users’ individual needs.
Martine added: “One lady just sat indoors when she first came to us and wouldn’t walk or talk, now she looks after the animals outside and is excited, entertained and busy. She tells staff she’s ‘living her best life’ and that is so rewarding.”