Continuing any community project beyond the life of a grant from someone like BIG can be a challenge.
It often means either finding funds from somewhere else or supporting volunteers to take the lead. As our project has progressed, we have noticed a real increase in ownership by the countrymen. It has been really exciting to see them talking about what they’d like to do and then agreeing what resources they’ll bring in to make that particular activity possible. But we are under no illusions as to the need to fund paid staff to keep the project on course.
The way forward
We have always aimed to make The Countrymen’s Club a place for older men who needed support but who couldn’t find it elsewhere. The need for this is as clear as it ever was, and we firmly believe that it is a service that helps people stay independent for longer and reduces the demand on healthcare and other public services. Our evaluation of The Countrymen’s Club with Bournemouth University will provide evidence for these claims, and we intend to use this to gain support from the NHS and others.
Part of our inspiration for this comes from Clinks Care Farm in Norfolk. Working with Great Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust, the farm is able to offer ‘farming on prescription‘ to younger adults with mild mental health problems. We want older people to be able to go to their GP and be referred to a farm just like you might get a referral to a gym!