From education to employment

Cardiff and Vale College students create a place of sanctuary

Jade Ashill and Mason Miller take care of the donkeys with Charlotte from Amelia Trust Farm

Students on two Fast Forward courses at Cardiff and Vale College’s Barry Campus have combined their skills to create a donkey sanctuary at the Amelia Trust Farm.

The students aimed to improve the lives and understand the needs of rescued donkeys at the Vale of Glamorgan farm as part of their volunteering qualifications.

The idea of the project came from an increasing need to develop the students’ confidence, team work and employability skills to support their future aspirations.  Students developed a range of practical work skills by building a shelter that could be used to educate vulnerable people and then by working with donkeys to develop their own personal confidence and emotional literacy. 

Wayne Carter, CAVC’s Widening Participation Manager said: “We are keen to enable students to support community-based projects which provide meaningful experiences to enhance their personal and employability skills.”

Students worked over a six-week period at the project, learning about health and safety, cleaning stables, basic care, grooming, walking and generally tending for the four rescued donkeys. They also developed their carpentry skills and built an outside classroom from reclaimed wood to improve the visitor experience.

Above all the students worked as a team to create fantastic results. Two students, Kimberly Thomas and Mason Miller, are also working on digital interactive guides to the farm to get more people involved in the great work that staff and students at Amelia Trust Farm undertake.

Mason Miller, who is 17 and from Barry, said: “I feel that the farm was a brilliant experience for me, working with the donkeys was great for me learning more about them and how to look after them on a day to day basis was really interesting.  Building the shelter was quite fun and useful for the future, learning how to use different tools and how to take measurements.

“Getting to know people was great as well along with meeting the other Fast Forward group was nice –  it felt good mixing with other people.”

Malcolm Jones, Education Manager at Amelia Trust Farm said: “The project has been a total success due to having a balance between learning practical skills and animal assisted therapies within a nurturing environment.  The students have flourished and have grown in confidence to a point that other younger people aged 14-16 at the Farm, have now been inspired to follow the same path and attend college.”

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