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AHF backs progressive Social Farm in NI

18 January 2018
Northern Ireland

The Architectural Heritage Fund has awarded a Project Viability Grant to Annagh Social Farm to explore the potential of Annagh House, located near Aughnacloy, in rural south County Tyrone, to provide supported living for adults with learning disabilities.

The listed Georgian farmhouse was occupied by Justices of the Peace, hosted evacuees during WW2, latterly a tennis club, and local Scouts/ Girl Guides enjoyed its grounds.  The surrounding farmland and small Peg’s cottage in the grounds have provided social farming day opportunities for young adults over the last five and a half years. 

Annagh Social Farm, which also runs a social farm at a listed thatched farmhouse in Derrylin, Fermanagh, envisages expanding this important amenity by using Annagh House, and the barns to the rear, for supported living accommodation for up to ten adults, providing short term respite care and/or long-term placements. The adults would have the option of getting involved in meaningful activities on the farm during the day. The Community Interest Company (CIC) intends engaging supported living service providers to run the facility – the first of its kind that the group is aware of in Ireland.

The Architectural Heritage Fund’s seed funding would allow the group to get clarity on the feasibility of converting the farmhouse and outbuildings into supported living, and to test the economic viability of developing and running the facility. These findings, and the results of other consultations they have carried out, will allow them to devise a Project Viability Report, which they can use to approach other funders.

Matthew McKeague, Chief Executive of the Architectural Heritage Fund said:

‘Annagh Social Farm is a project with both a strong heritage and well-being focus. As the nature of farming changes it is becoming increasingly important to look at new models for keeping farms in use, including the many significant listed buildings on farm sites. Annagh Social Farm will test a new model and we are very interested in how similar projects can learn from it.’  

Simon Bullock, Treasurer of Annagh Social Farm CIC said:

‘Annagh Social Farm is very grateful for the advice and expertise made available  through this recently announced project viability grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund. We are delighted to have this opportunity to develop our vision of providing high quality accommodation for people with learning disabilities in a peaceful rural setting.’

Editors’ Notes

The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976, to promote the conservation and sustainable reuse of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in areas of deprivation.  It is the leading social investor and the only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK.

The Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, through its Historic Environment Division, and the Pilgrim Trust, has funded the AHF to deliver a two year programme of advice and seed funding to grow community enterprise through heritage across Northern Ireland. 

For further information contact:

Rita Harkin, NI Support Officer: 07789 758080

Simon Bullock, Chair, Annagh Social Farm CIC: 07771580387

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