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 are now re-developing it into a "supported living" home that will house ten adults with severe autism and complex needs. This will be a much needed facility in Surrey, and once built, The Simon Trust will enhance and personalise Linden Farm to support the needs of the ten residents, giving them meaningful activities to do on site and thus enhancing their quality of life. We are very grateful to Surrey County Council for making this all happen, as they are investing a lot of money and effort into making Linden Farm become a wonderful reality.
Building work started in January 2018 and there will be a house for 3 people (Apple Tree Cottage), a house for 2 people (Bluebell Cottage), and 5 individual flats (Orchard Cottages), as well as an activity centre (New Barn) on the site.
The Simon Trust will provide the "essential extras" which will make it possible for ten severely autistic people to prosper at Linden Farm. These facilities include a horticultural area, a therapy garden, garden furniture, arts and craft facilities, musical instruments, computer equipment, a smartscreen, audio systems and indoor sensory equipment. We would very much like that Linden Farm will become a centre of excellence for autism provision in Surrey.
The care provider has been appointed by Surrey County Council, and this will be Choice Care, who will ensure that the young adults are well looked after at Linden Farm. Staff recruitment and training is starting in 2018 ready for the ten tenants to move in during the spring and summer of 2019. Exciting times and we know that Choice Care will do a great job!
The Simon Trust has already raised a considerable sum of money as a result of nearly 70 fund raising events over the last two years, plus many generous donations from kind people and various trust funds. The Charity has been overwhelmed by the help 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?
At Linden Farm each young resident will have access to the following - the sum of which will enable them to enjoy the best possible quality of life:
One of the most important attributes will be the expert trained staff. These need to be 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 fundamentals needs to be structure and routine. Without structure, people with autism can become very stressed.
Unfortunately those with autism are often susceptible to epilepsy and other health issues. Trained staff should be keeping a watchful eye on these young people at all times and will need to know how to deal with seizures and other emergencies.
This semi-rural setting will provide an opportunity for these young adults to have a level of self-fulfilment that they could never have in many other care homes. This new venture will have an enviable infrastructure of activities which are directed towards people with autism. Growing plants, making saleable products, playing musical instruments, doing arts and crafts and tending chickens will be some of the many core activities. There will also be a therapy garden, an apple orchard and a nature area in the woodland where insects, birds, frogs and other wildlife could be encouraged. An Activity Centre will be on site where the young people could perform office duties such as filling envelopes for local companies and doing other crafts such as making Christmas cards.
Being part of the local community is very important. For example, we hope the young people will be able to sweep leaves for local residents, pick up litter, tidy up footpaths and sell some of their home-made produce in a local village shop.
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. Speech and language therapists and occupational therapists need to be involved to advise and work alongside the carers.
Bringing these people back into county will save Surrey County Council significant sums of money over the 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.