There With You: Wellgate Community Farm desperately needs money to help feed animals
PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:16 07 April 2020
The consequences of coronavirus feel endless, as the pandemic has stolen lives, jobs and freedom.
Communities and industries have been rocked by the government lockdown, with many – including Wellgate Community Farm in Marks Gate – seeing their income decimated.
The farm’s operations manager, Jon Drane, says it needs to raise £5,000 just to survive.
“We are completely closed. Two people attend the farm each day to look after the animals as their needs remain the same.”
Jon – into his fifth year on the farm – describes coronavirus as “catastrophic”. Seven out of eight staff members are now on furlough, including himself. Only the staffer in charge of animal welfare remains.
Though he says the government job retention scheme is very helpful, Jon fears the farm will lose “around £60,000 from this thing” and struggle to recover.
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It is looking to raise £5,000 to keep the farm afloat, emphasising that it has been a presence in the community since 1982.
Jon added: “We’re established and what we do really has an impact. Our busiest time of year is between March and July, so it feels weird to have just shut everything down.”
The farm has lost all its income revenue, including that from the educational programmes it runs.
Jon praises the “alternative education projects” for young people who struggle in mainstream education, remarking that they “promote learning in a less enclosed and less pressurised environment”.
He is also complimentary of a “supportive” Barking and Dagenham Council, with whom there have been preliminary discussions about how it can help.
Yet for now the farm is floundering badly in the face of an enforced closure. There is no money coming in, but the cost of looking after the animals remains. At Jon’s last count, there were six sheep (including one born last week), two ponies, two goats and a cow to feed.
He urges anyone who can to donate to the JustGiving page and promises the good times will return to the farm once again.
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