100 years of social care: a new future for Oak Farm in Ditton Priors
A new and exciting future is now a reality for Oak Farm in Ditton Priors and the people who use it following its recent transfer to a community-owned land trust.
In 1919 the then Shropshire County Council purchased 111 acres of agricultural land in Ditton Priors to turn into smallholdings for servicemen returning from the trenches of the First World War.
It is perhaps fitting therefore that as the country commemorates the events of those years (1914 – 1918) that the current Shropshire Council and the community of Ditton Priors have just completed the transfer of the last remaining 38 acres of that initial 111 acre purchase – which is now known collectively as Oak Farm – into the Ditton Priors Community Land Trust.
The community land trust is owned and managed by the community of Ditton Priors and its patron is Lady Julia Boyne, nee Howard whose estate this land was a part of prior to 1858.
It has taken three years and a lot of time and effort by the small band of volunteers from the community of Ditton Priors working with Shropshire Council to get to this point.
2015 is also the year that sees the Silver Jubilee for the Oak Farm Day Care Service for adults with learning difficulties that has existed on the site since 1990, managed by Stuart Toulson. Stuart named the land ‘Oak Farm’ because of the small oak tree seedling that he found growing in one of the disused buildings when he first visited the site.
Support will continue to be provided to the 40 adults with learning disabilities who regularly use it and its facilities. However, the council and the community trust intend to work together to develop and enhance what is provided, and hopefully attract new people to experience the benefits the farm has to offer.
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult services – transformation and safeguarding, said:
“The transfer of Oak Farm to the Ditton Priors Community Land Trust brings lots of new opportunities for the day service and the local area and it’s an extremely exciting time. We’re confident that by increasing community involvement we can successfully secure the farm’s future.”
There is a very strong desire on the part of the community to see the continuance of the work of the day care service at Oak Farm, which now resides at the very centre of the village, both in its physical location, but also in the hearts of the people of the community of Ditton Priors and the wider area of Brown Clee.
Andrew Primrose, on behalf of the directors of the trust, said:
“This provides a new and positive future for the land and the work being carried out at Oak Farm with an exciting and also challenging opportunity for the community to take over the mantle of community and social benefit first started by the council almost 100 hundred years before.”
The community trust is constantly in need of members to join and make it a real community project and for everyone to have their say in how it will be run. Yearly membership costs £10 and lifetime membership costs £100.