Little Gate Farm
Locate East Sussex recently had the pleasure of meeting Little Gate Farm, a charity just outside of Rye, where we discovered a host of talented, enthusiastic, and dedicated individuals, whom Little Gate are supporting to join the East Sussex workforce.
Little Gate Farm is a charity for people with learning disabilities and autism, aiding them to find jobs and apprenticeships, supporting individuals as young as 8 with educational activities and training, all the way through to young adults providing supported employment and work opportunities.
Claire Cordell founded Little Gate Farm in 2013, after observing the drastic difference in opportunities available to her daughter, who had learning difficulties, and her twin brother.
“Claire became increasingly aware of the ‘cliff edge’ caused by the lack of aspirational provision after the age of 19.”
Currently only 6% of adults with learning disabilities are in paid employment, meaning many are unpaid, or stuck at home. Little Gate Farm believes that paid employment for young people with learning difficulties and autism can be transformational, both for employee and the whole of society.
The Little Gate Campus
We had the pleasure of being given a tour around the farm and getting to see some of the many projects taking place around the estate. From the woodland team, who were busy preparing a charcoal burn, which they hand package and print, to the gardens where a variety of plants and flowers are being grown, some of which are sold to local florists. The skills and techniques being learnt on the farm are all carefully delivered to be transferable, and applicable to the work environment and life in general. Little Gate also has an events space, home to Little Gates fairs and private functions where work trainees learn valuable hospitality skills, tending to the weddings and parties that take place at their gorgeous bar and barn. It’s here too that in just a few weeks, the sheep will be coming into lamb.
After the tour we were treated to lunch, prepared by the team in the kitchen, learning valuable culinary skills for use at home and in the workplace. Over lunch we chatted to Andrea Randall-Smith, Little Gate CEO and Mary Soul, Head of Finance and Fundraising. Here we were able to hear firsthand the work that little Gate does away from the farm, in the supported employment sector.
Little Gate operates three schemes, namely Supported Employment, Supported Work Training, and Supported Apprenticeships.
Supported employment at Little Gate Farm involves matching the right person with the right job and providing all the necessary skills and knowledge to both employee and employer, to create the most mutually beneficial relationship for both parties.
Fundamental to this process is Little Gates dedicated team of ‘Job Coaches’. Each candidate is allocated a job coach, who works with both parties providing support and advice. Working closely with the young person, they produce a heavily detailed Vocational Profile, which is similar to a CV but includes any additional skills and capabilities that sets the candidate apart, as well as any adjustments that may be necessary for the to make their fullest contribution to the workplace. This is not only highly beneficial to the young person as a tool that will help them far into the future, but is also useful for employers to gain an understanding of any adaptions they may need to make, and the unique skills the candidate brings that could improve their workspace.
For many employers, working with Little Gate encourages them to rethink existing processes, as well as be introduced to new, more efficient methods of working, and revitalizing team spirit. For some, the necessity to travel to work can pose difficulty and so one of the services Little Gate provides is ‘travel to work’ training, helping people get to their roles. The Job Coach will help them to navigate the process of finding the right mode of transport, purchasing tickets, alighting at the right point, and walking to the place of work.
Little Gate also provides a supported apprenticeship scheme. In a similar manner to supported employment, this involves working closely with a dedicated job coach, who prepares both apprentice and provider for the experience. 86% of employers believe that having an apprentice helps to develop skills more closely related to their organisation that could be impressed on existing employees, and 78% believed having an apprentice improved their overall productivity. By providing apprenticeship opportunities, employers can benefit from a pool of very talented young people who they can develop and learn from themselves. For the apprentice, they can achieve official accreditation and valuable experience in a manner that conventional further education may not be able to provide. In many cases, the companies regard the apprentice and their work so highly, that they are kept on at the end of their course as a valued member of the team.
Supported Work Training
Supported Work Training at Little Gate is a way of preparing its members for life in the working environment. They develop their confidence, independence, and communication skills, through sessions carefully designed and delivered by the Little Gate team. Individually, participants receive job-specific skills training to help them in the workplace of their desired industry or placement.
One such teaching method used is referred toas ‘Training in Systematic Instruction’
“We help trainees to set themselves specific, personal goals to achieve. Not only does this mean that every person receives training and objectives which are suitable to them, it also gives trainees an enormous sense of achievement when the goals are reached.”
“having a job now it makes me feel more confident in myself, being able to be more independent, learn new skills, going out there and, y’know, doing the things I love and care for’”
-Little Gate Work Trainee.
Locate East Sussex and Little Gate
Business Manager Emily Wright from Locate East Sussex first met Little Gate at a Hastings Chamber of Commerce meeting. This led to us taking on Ben as an apprentice, part of the supported apprenticeship scheme, as his original apprenticeship had to be cut short due to the pandemic. Ben was able to complete his course here at Locate East Sussex, working with our administration team.
“Ben was a fantastic contribution to our team – hard working and focused, he even contributed to improving one of our processes, boosting efficiency”
– Emily Wright, Locate East Sussex
We at Locate look forward to working closely with Little Gate in the future, supporting employment opportunities and skill development for young people in the county who may struggle with conventional job-seeking processes.
For more information visit https://www.littlegate.org.uk/