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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

Wellgate Farm needs at least £5,000 to keep afloat and be able to feed its animals. Picture: Paul Bennett

Wellgate Farm needs at least £5,000 to keep afloat and be able to feed its animals. Picture: Paul Bennett

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The consequences of coronavirus feel endless, as the pandemic has stolen lives, jobs and freedom.

There With You - the Barking and Dagenham Post's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.There With You - the Barking and Dagenham Post's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.

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.

The farm has sheep, ponies, goats and a cow to feed. Picture: Melissa PageThe farm has sheep, ponies, goats and a cow to feed. Picture: Melissa Page

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.”

Wellgate community farm in Dagenham, closed as a result of coronavirus. Picture: Wellgate Community FarmWellgate community farm in Dagenham, closed as a result of coronavirus. Picture: Wellgate Community Farm

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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