Farm Life: how the trips we’re funding to farms for young people who are blind and vision impaired are enriching lives and creating community – Vision Foundation

Farm Life: how the trips we’re funding to farms for young people who are blind and vision impaired are enriching lives and creating community

We’re helping young people who are blind and vision impaired to thrive by funding LOOK UK, which alongside mentorship programmes also delivers farm life experiences with Jamie’s Farm.
People who are blind and vision impaired are more likely to experience loneliness and isolation than the general population1. Contrary to some beliefs, we also know that younger people are experiencing the highest level of feeling lonely, with 37% of 16-25-year-olds saying that they feel lonely some or most of the time, according to the UK government.

Megan, from LOOK who is VI herself knows how valuable these visits to the farm are:
“Things are particularly tough for young people with visual impairment. Research shows what we already know, and that is that children and young people with a visual impairment often struggle with depression, anxiety, isolation, and feelings of low self-esteem, and at Look, we really want to change this.

We know how important it is to feel connected to a community and find your tribe. Our mentoring events and resources help people to face challenges and feel less alone. In partnering with the Vision Foundation / Fight for Sight and Jamie’s Farm on this project, we are really hoping to give young people the opportunity to make friends, try something new, boost their confidence, and feel the benefit of being in nature for their mental health.”

We funded visits for up to 10 young people to four of Jamie’s Farm locations around the country (Lewes, Bath, Skipton and Hereford). Our Communications Assistant, Louis Hendry, joined them ‘down on the farm’ in Lewes to discover why this enriching experience is vital in creating connections and a sense of joy.

To find out more about LOOK UK’s work with young people visit their website.

Mucking in: a sense of community

The visit to Jamie’s Farm, began at 10 am. All 10 young people gathered in the dining room. There was a buzz of excitement and chatter among attendees, many of whom had met on previous LOOK UK events.

New members were welcomed.

One of the charity’s key aims is “beating isolation of young visually impaired people (VIPS), by creating connection and community.” It’s a passion we share. This year we commissioned research into experiences of loneliness and isolation amongst vision impaired people in order to guide our grant giving activities. Along with LOOK we are also funding projects such as intergenerational music experiences, low impact physical activity and community centres. You can find out more about these projects on our website here.

Farm manager Sam called everyone to attention and laid out an itinerary for the day, and then it was off to the Boot Shed to get farm-ready.

Once everyone had put on wellies, waterproof trousers, and large overcoats they were put into groups for a farm tour.

Two young women, Ellie and Naz, gently cradling chickens. They're wearing thick, black farm waterproofs and smiling.
Ellie and Naz making friends

First stop was the chicken coop. As it was daytime the chickens had free range of the farm. Katy, resident equestrian, chased some down so attendees could pet them. One made its home on the shoulder of Sam and even took a nap.

This was Sam’s first visit to Jamie’s Farm. Sam is new to being vision impaired, having lost his sight last year at age 24 due to a blood clot which damaged his optic nerve. Events like this are particularly valuable to Sam as he builds confidence and meets other vision impaired people his age.

Sam said: “It was great to be given tasks, that you don’t normally do and be given the opportunity to complete them independently. I particularly enjoyed interacting with the animals and chopping firewood.”

Fellow attendee, Finn also made a farm friend as the group greeted the cows. Bottle fed from calves, they were friendly and immediately came over to greet their guests and have their velvety noses stroked. Silvia, a young jersey cow, was immediately enamoured with Finn and repeatedly stuck her head through the bars to give him a kiss.

Kidding around

As the visit continued, visitors made their way to see Harrison the goat, last year’s only kid. He was soft to touch and had an excellent time trying to munch on people’s coats, lanyards, and white canes.

The group then headed inside to meet Jamie’s Farm’s latest arrivals – two-day old lambs! Everyone sat down on the straw while the lambs roamed around, clambering over people’s laps, and getting their heads stroked.

Then it was an immediate change of pace in the pig pen. The pigs were so thrilled to have visitors they immediately started to chomp on people’s wellies while they enjoyed having their sides scratched. “At least wait until I’m dead before you start eating me!” was quipped as the group made their hasty escape.

Everyone reconvened at the Boot Shed and split up to take part in some farm activities: cooking, working with horses, or chopping wood.

Active engagement: cooking up connections

A day on one of Jamie’s Farm very much centres around the big family-style kitchens. Sitting around the farm table over tea and toast is where the group first get to know each other, and at the end of the day is where you have a final snack and share thoughts about your experience. But in the middle of the day there’s lunch!

In the kitchen, Lou and Joel chopped salad and made flatbread dough in preparation for lunch. In a smaller group, taking on a calmer activity, it was a great opportunity for people to get to know each other a little better.

They discussed cooking, colleges, and previous LOOK UK visits. Lou commented, “It’s nice to have a taster day [on the farm] like this. Now I know what it feels like, and what a potential residential would be like. Sometimes I’m a little afraid of the unknown, but after this I know what to expect, and that I’d like it.”

With the salad prepared and the flatbreads cooked, it was time for the whole group to come back together to eat. People talked about their days so far, but it also came to light that several people had their own podcasts, or wanted to start one, and guest spots and top tips were exchanged. Which colleges provide useful accommodations was discussed, along with which sensory products people preferred. At the end of the day, links and social media handles were shared.

After lunch the groups split again. Woodchoppers headed off to collect some axes – a small axe that was not particularly small, and a large axe that certainly lived up to its descriptor – and some logs, then made the short journey up into the woods.

Sam passed around goggles and explained how the shin guards would protect everyone from accidentally chopping into their legs, then invited people up one at a time to chop some logs. The logs are dried on the farm for a couple years, to reduce the amount of carbon they emit when burned, and then they’re used on the farm to heat the pizza oven.

Joel and Joe took to log chopping immediately, repeatedly making clean cuts, and quickly moved over to work without any guidance from Sam. After battling with a particularly solid log for a few minutes, Ellie succeeded in chopping a log into perfect quarters. And while Naz worried about what her yoga students would think of her letting all her anger out on a log, she did find the process very cathartic.

Joel chopping wood in a copse while the farm manager watches. He's wearing dark farm waterproofs and has just chopped a log clean in half.
Joel chopping a log clean in two.

As the day drew to a close, the group congregated one final time to share thoughts and takeaways. The Jamie’s Farm team asked everyone to score their day out of 10, and it was almost 10 across the board, with the main thing that caused people to deduct points being that they wished the visit could have been longer.

Highlights for the visitors included getting to spend time in nature, bonding with the farm animals, getting to know new people, spending time with other visually impaired people, and getting over a fear of chickens.

The entire day was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. This visit was part of our funding round to tackle loneliness and isolation in the visually impaired community and it felt like a huge success. Jamie’s Farm provided a fun environment for young people to bond and take part in new activities and everyone went home feeling accomplished and having enjoyed themselves.

Resources for young people

We have partnered with mental health organisation, Shout, to offer free and confidential text support to blind and vision impaired people in distress.

Find out more about how to access this service, how it works and FAQs.

LOOK offers mentoring, transformational events, online forums and parent support across the UK.

Jamie’s Farm
Jamie’s Farm is a charity equipping young people to thrive through the unique blend of farming, family, therapy and legacy. Delivered via five-day residential retreats and follow up programmes as well as short one day visits.

Support our work

You can help us fund more projects so we can end disconnection, loneliness, isolation and poor mental health for blind and vision impaired people of all ages.

Donate now

Read and share our latest research

As an evidence-led organisation our funding is guided by research we have commissioned. The evidence we gather informs the programmes we fund, the partnerships we build and the infrastructure we support.

You can read our latest report into the insights of loneliness and isolation for blind and vision impaired people here.

Thank you to IICF

With special thanks to the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) for supporting these invaluable events for young vision impaired people. These events have provided an opportunity for connection, community and confidence-building in a beautiful setting.


1 – Dr Mhairi Thurston, Craig Dunlop, Eleanor Southwood (2024) ‘Outside: insights into loneliness and isolation for blind and vision impaired people.’