In 2015, The Simon Trust found a 6-acre plot of land for sale in Alfold, near Cranleigh, which they saw as the perfect site on which to build a home for severely autistic adults. The Simon Trust presented the project to Surrey County Council, who purchased it and have now developed it into a "supported living" home that will house ten adults with severe autism and complex needs. It has provided a much-needed home for severely autistic adults in Surrey, allowing them to live nearer their families. We are very grateful to Surrey County Council for making this all happen, as they invested a lot of money and effort into making Linden Farm become a reality.
Linden Farm sits beside the pretty Alfold church and is very much within the local community. There is an acre of historic woodland with a small stream running through, and a three-acre field to the south of the site. The middle section has a house for 3 people (Daffodil Cottage), a house for 2 people (Snowdrop Cottage), and 5 individual flats (Blossom Cottages), as well as an activity centre (New Barn).
The Simon Trust is there to provide the "essential extras" which will make it possible for the ten severely autistic residents to enjoy a meaningful life at Linden Farm. These facilities might eventually include a therapy garden, cycle track, musical instruments, computer equipment, audio systems, indoor sensory equipment, and more as and when needed. We hope that Linden Farm will become a centre of excellence for autism provision in Surrey.
Choice Care was appointed by Surrey County Council as the Linden Farm care provider, and they are doing a good job to ensure that the young adults are well looked after. Choice Care, as well as The Linden Farm Residents' Association, can apply to The Simon Trust for extra items and facilities that would benefit the young people as and when they are needed.
The Simon Trust has already raised a considerable sum of money as a result of over 75 fund-raising events over the last 5 years, plus many generous donations from kind people and various trust funds. The Charity has been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of so many people from all walks of life.
Please contact us if you would like to get involved! We hope you will support this worthy cause.
Why is this project so important?
Linden Farm has been established so that each young resident has access to the following, the combination of which will enable them to enjoy a meaningful life:
One of the most important attributes are the expert trained staff. These are people who understand and have experience of those with autism and complex needs.
The young people need to be given an opportunity to develop a degree of independence and personal care. The staff will need to encourage them to do domestic jobs such as loading the dish washer, cleaning their rooms, cooking meals and cleaning their teeth.
Many of these young adults have boundless energy and would not cope with an urban house or environment. Easily unlocked doors and dangerous roads are inappropriate for them. They cannot cope with noise and they need a rural setting to bounce around in. They also need a secure environment with easy access to safe space outside.
One of the fundamental necessities for people with autism is structure and routine. Without this, they can become very stressed and behaviour can regress. Consistency in their daily routine and a regular dedicated staff team is therefore vital.
Unfortunately those with autism are often susceptible to epilepsy and other health issues. Trained staff are therefore needed to keep a watchful eye on these young people at all times and need to know how to deal with seizures and other emergencies.
This semi-rural setting provides an opportunity for these young adults to have a level of self-fulfilment that they could never have in many other care homes. Linden Farm lends the opportunity for an enviable infrastructure of activities which are directed towards people with autism. As well as allowing them to go out into the community, the site offers the young people space to grow plants, play musical instruments, exercise, bake in the cookery room, carry out arts and crafts, among other activities. An on-site Activity Centre provides a communal social area, where group and individual activities can be carried out.
Being part of the local community is very important in supported living. For example, some of the young people at Linden Farm have been learning to rake leaves in the village churchyard, taking part in community art groups, and attending ukulele evenings in the village pub.
The use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is vital for communication. Many of these young adults are non-verbal, so this is their only means of asking for basic needs. Staff are trained to encourage and support the residents in whatever means of communication they use.
Bringing these people back into county will save Surrey County Council significant sums of money in care over the coming years. Out of county placements are expensive and it has been proven that 'out of sight, out of mind' is not a good philosophy. County councils now want their disabled people back in county for political reasons, and families want their sons and daughters back nearer to them.