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 houses 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 so far include a 400 metre cycle track, a large storage shed, musical instruments, computer equipment, arts and crafts equipment, bikes, trikes, a state of the art sensory room, shrubs, flower beds, an allotment and more as and when needed. We hope that Linden Farm will soon be recognised as 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 great job to ensure that the young adults are well looked after, with many excellent and caring staff. All the residents are on 1:1 care and several on 2:1 care, so it is important for the staff to understand the particular characteristics and requirements for each young person.
Linden Farm Residents' Association has been set up by the various parents to take ownership of all the facilities paid for by The Simon Trust. Also to take responsibility for insurance, maintenance issues and helping each family out in times of difficulty. Having a son or daughter with severe autism has its ups and downs and is very time consuming.
The Simon Trust has already raised a considerable sum of money as a result of over 75 fund-raising events over the last 7 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 or know more! 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 a large cross selection of activities and facilities - the combination of which helps them to enjoy a full and meaningful life:
One of the most important attributes are the expert and caring staff. These are people who understand and have experience of those with autism and complex needs. Each young person at Linden Farm has differing needs and these need to be understood.
We are grateful to Choice Care for providing this expert care
The young people need to be given an opportunity to develop a degree of independence and personal care. The staff are excellent at encouraging them to do domestic jobs such as loading the dish washer, cleaning their rooms, cooking meals and cleaning their teeth. Known as DLS - Daily Living Skills.
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 has 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, amongst other activities. An on-site Activity Centre provides a communal social area, where group and individual activities can be carried out.
Off site activities are many to include rock climbing, sailing, art and baking.
Being part of the local community is very important in supported living. June 2022 saw a well attended community evening in the local Church Hall, where the topic of autism was discussed and several kind people from the village came forward to be volunteers in helping with cookery classes.
The use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is vital for communication for several of the young people. Several 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 great philosophy. County councils now want their special needs people back in county for political reasons, and families want their sons and daughters back nearer to them.