The Hope Nature Centre

The Hope Nature Centre

The Hope Nature Centre is a treat and an inspiring set up. On Saturday, my daughter and I took her daughter, Penny, and my son’s son, Tarka, to the Hope Nature Centre in Southwick Coutry Park. I had known the Park from several years earlier when we lived nearby and I used to walk my dogs there. I was astonished by the development in the Hope Centre.

Welcome to the Hope Nature Centre, a fun family day out, set in 15 acres of Southwick Country Park near Trowbridge. Come and join us for a spot of Breakfast or Lunch in our Cafe, before exploring our Animal Park. Come and see a variety of animals including; Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Donkeys and much more.

We took the 2 children, both nearly 4, to see the animals and they were delighted to be able to feed some with the special food supplied with our family ticket. The walk around the many enclosures is punctuated with different play areas so there was plenty for the little ones to do to burn off energy. We finished the walk in the café, where there was a choice of hot and cold drinks and cakes, and apparently breakfasts and lunches are also available. (Which we only realised when we returned the following day for a walk around the Country Park!)

The Hope Nature Centre is a registered charity, formed as part of the Fairfield Farm Trust. This brilliant organisation also incorporates Fairfield Farm College, a Specialist College for young people aged 16-25 with learning and physical disabilities. Students can go on to gain work experience and practical skills in Animal Management, Catering, Customer Services and other areas at the Hope Nature Centre and Café. There is a lovely positive vibe about the place and it seems clear that the young people working there are enjoying the experience.

The College has a 2-year Study Programme which enables students to build upon and learn new skills to support their living, education, and career aspirations.

Our aim is to prepare young people for transition to adulthood, living and working in their communities.

A 2-year individualised programme includes vocational learning in Horticulture; Practical Skills and Enterprise; Equine & Stable Management; Farm & Animal Management and Catering as well as imparting knowledge of Maths and English; Sport and Enrichment; Independence Skills; The World of Work. Experience can be gained in Retail; Hospitality and Catering; Customer Service; Grounds and Maintenance and there are externally accredited qualifications in Employability Skills; Maths and English; Skills for Work; Step Up as well as subject specific qualifications.

I was so impressed with the Hope Nature Centre, the thought that has gone into it and its place in the bigger picture of changing the lives of so many young people. It is wonderful to find such a comprehensive and positive set up that not only provides the opportunity for young people with disabilities to learn life skills, which will give them fulfillment and self respect but gives a lot of pleasure to the visitors to the park and the centre as well!

If you live anywhere near Southwick (or even if not!) I really recommend a visit. The Country Park Nature Reserve comprises of 150 acres of old farmland which is being developed as a nature reserve and is improving as habitat all the time. The number of species that grow or live there gets bigger every day.

There are orchids in Village Green now, helleborines seeding into the woodland, evidence that there are dormice in the hazel coppices, and a thriving population of slow worms.

It is a beautiful space and provides a wonderful dog- and child-friendly opportunity for people to get out into nature – so important for physical and mental health.

The Hope Nature Centre
Views at Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve

Links: (will open in new tabs)

Address – : Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve, 201 Frome Rd, Southwick, Trowbridge BA14 9HH