How we help vulnerable children
Dandelion Time works with the child and the wider family, believing that family relationships and bonds are vital in helping a child overcome their difficulties and are often a key factor in their issues. Bringing together members of the family (and on occasion professionals and others important to the child) allows family relationships to be fostered and, with the guidance and encouragement of supportive and skilled therapeutic staff, helps to build self-respect, empathy and positive communication.
“The atmosphere is relaxed, but every chance is seized on to bolster confidence, develop skills and rebuild relationships”. Hilary Wilce, The Independent.
In a combination of one-to-one and group family sessions, families take part in practical farm and craft activities in which they engage with the natural world and processes, bringing therapeutic and developmental benefits whilst families enjoy being together in a relaxed supportive environment.
Work on the farm caring for animals and growing and harvesting vegetables helps children to expand their senses as a natural process in a natural environment. Children’s sense of responsibility and self-worth develop as they learn to care and be nurturing and compassionate towards trusting creatures. Families use the farm’s produce to prepare and cook meals; eating together, alongside other families, co-operating and sharing in joint activities.
“It’s all about using practical tasks to raise self-esteem and self-awareness. When we do things like picking vegetables from the garden, and chopping them up in the kitchen, it’s all part of helping people reconnect with themselves and with each other.” Carol Bridges, Lead Practitioner.
With the support of positive and encouraging role models, children work creatively with their hands in craft activities using clay, wool and wood. These peaceful and absorbing activities help to build a sense of achievement as children complete enjoyable projects, learn new skills and discover the benefits of patience and perseverance. Children gain a sense of purpose, developing in confidence and self-esteem whilst becoming more in touch with their senses and the world around them.
“Dandelion Time is now a leader in showing how agencies can work with children and families fragmented by neglect, abuse and trauma. Three particular strengths in the approaches are central: providing nature-based environments for physical activity, building social engagement into days to learn and develop new relations with others, and craft-based activities for the cognitive and emotional benefits of building, shaping and caring for things.” Professor Pretty
Creative and expressive activities including music, art and drama help children to develop a sense of imagination and improvisation, learning how to express their feelings in non-destructive ways and relate to others without conflict, gaining a new understanding of boundaries and trust. These activities assist to shift negative behavioural patterns and nurture positive communication within families.
“This is my time with Mum – just ours…Sometimes in my life I get angry easily, but it has got better….Now I’m going to stick with it, if anyone says I can’t do it.” Child
The calming rural setting of Dandelion’s gardens and farm provides a great opportunity for children to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of physical activities. Outdoor games and exercise promote good physical and mental health and an enjoyment of the outdoors, providing families with space to breathe and relax which is so often lacking in their day-to-day lives.
‘You can open up to people and get away from things. You also get to do woodworking, which is quite hard and frustrating, but I’ve found I’ve got a knack for it.” Child
Our work is tailored to meet individual needs and we are highly flexible in the support we offer. Every referred child’s circumstances are different and we have found that key to successful support is to offer alternative approaches that really meet the child’s individual needs.
Legal statement: Dandelion Time is not eligible to register with either the Care Quality Commission or OFSTED because we do not offer a ‘treatment service provided by a health care professional’ and are neither an educational establishment nor provide childcare. Dandelion Time is currently looking at alternative quality marks to endorse the high standard of therapeutic service that it offers to vulnerable children and families.