Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 14:50 UK
Farmers help addicts 'get clean'
Former alcoholic, Matt from Aberdeen
Matt is doing a course in livestock husbandry

Plans have been unveiled for a series of working care farms across Shropshire and the West Midlands.

Care Farming West Midlands (CFWM) has received £414,000 from Advantage West Midlands to develop 20 care farms.

These will help a variety of people who have found it difficult to find work because of drug or alcohol abuse, mental health problems or imprisonment.

Willowdene Farm in Chorley near Bridgnorth has been rehabilitating offenders for more than 20 years.

Four litres of vodka

Former alcoholic, 27-year-old Matt came to the farm after his doctor told him that he had just months to live.

Matt said at one point he was drinking four litres of vodka a day.

On a typical night he would "get blind drunk, have coke, get arrested and end up in jail".

Matt decided turn his life around when he lost his wife, his job, his flat and his health.

The farm has been his saviour, he said: "It's the fresh air, it's the countryside, for me it was ideal."

"Family environment"

Matthew Home and his family own Willowdene, a 200-acre arable and livestock farm.

It was one of the first care farms in the country and takes 15 male offenders, with alcohol or substance abuse, aged 20 to 50.

Its rehabilitation courses, which are linked to Walford and North Shropshire College, have become the farm's core business.

Lisa Gunn, Matthew Home and Matt
Most students leave with a job and without their addiction

Matthew said: "One of the key things is these lads have had a chaotic lifestyle without a family environment... mixing with a normal family is something they've never had."

Lisa Gunn, who works as a psychotherapist at Willowdene, said: "In 2004, 94% of people at the farm left drug-free and in employment."

Chairman of CFWM, Roger Murray, said: "Essentially care farming is about providing a healthy daily structure for people to develop their social and practical skills."

A spokesman for the Advantage West Midlands' Rural Regeneration Zone said the courses are funded by local health authorities and the probation service.


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