Chance to get away for people with learning difficulties

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:30 03 December 2018

Rosebud Farm. Photo: Emmie Barker

Rosebud Farm. Photo: Emmie Barker

Archant

For those with learning difficulties and their carers, Rosebud Farm could offer them the respite they need.

My Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie BarkerMy Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie Barker

A Honiton organisation is giving adults and children with learning difficulties the chance to travel around the world and enjoy the experience of holidaying in the UK.

My Holiday Place, which operates under My Support and Care Services Ltd in Honiton, was set up by Somerset mum-of-two Emmie Barker after she realised the hurdles people faced when trying to book a fully-supported break.

Emmie said: “We realised it was very difficult for the customers that we support because they would have to pay for the holiday, support staff members, trips and the food and drink. It gets very costly.”

The first step Emmie took was to set up a holiday ‘home away from home’, by utilising a historic farmhouse belonging to her family.

My Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie BarkerMy Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie Barker

At one point, four generations of Emmie’s family lived in the grand house, near Wells and Glastonbury, which was transformed into a holiday let after her grandmother died.

After a laborious conversion of the property – which involved transforming each bedroom into ‘theme rooms’, ‘Rosebud Farm’ officially opened for business.

Emmie said: “The house needed a purpose again, so we completely re-did it, with the help of our users and volunteers at My Support and Care Services, and friends and family.

“Each room has different fun themes – a safari room with a faux rhino coming out of the wall, a tropical room, which looks like you’re in the middle of the Amazon, a beach room, a birds room – which is decorated in a venetian style, and a travel room.”

My Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie BarkerMy Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie Barker

Rosebud Farm was transformed into a holiday let because Emmie used to rent bed and breakfasts for her customers.

She was told several times that Rosebud Farm would be the perfect place the users could call their own – and the idea grew from there.

Emmie said: “The customers came up with the name ‘My Holiday Place’ because it’s their place to be.

“They wanted the same place to go back to time and time again, but wanted different holidays each year.

My Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie BarkerMy Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie Barker

“Rosebud Farm is in a really good location to provide that – it’s near to the zoo and other popular tourist attractions.

“The guys always say to me how magical Rosebud Farm is. Often, carers will say to me this customer won’t be able to sleep in a new place.

“I have never had that at Rosebud Farm, because it is such a relaxing environment. The theme rooms contribute a lot to that.

“The décor is light and fresh and it doesn’t feel like a big old spooky room.”

My Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie BarkerMy Holiday Place. Photo: Emmie Barker

Rosebud Farm also offers day sessions, which can focus on anything from music and dance to woodwork and gardening.

Emmie said: “The sessions are so varied because the people are varied.

“One person may loathe the fact they have to sing and dance, but may be really interested in building a bird box. We can provide a range of activities to suit different hobbies.”

My Holiday Place also organises five-day breaks around the UK to cater to a range of different preferences.

These include day trips from Rosebud Farm to Butlins, a traditional beach break at both Brean and Dunster beach, a special animal encounter trip at Longleat or Bristol Zoo, and the company’s ‘magical holiday’ to Wookie Hole and Cheddar Gorge.

The organisation also offers a festive holiday, where a visit to a Somerset reindeer ranch and lit-up Exeter Christmas market awaits.

Emmie said: “Parents and carers often consider these holidays a better option than respite because they offer a lot more. The users are enjoying outdoor activities and trips every day instead of sitting inside a house.

“On these holidays, you get a lot more bang for your buck. I have had parents say to me ‘I haven’t had a call all week’, because when some people are put in respite, they will call home and say they want to leave.

“These breaks should be for everybody – the person with the learning disability, their carers and their parents.

“These trips are important, not only because our users have fun and can relax, but because they are socialising with like-minded people.

“The hardest part of the job is matching people in groups. I get forms saying this person can not holiday with this person, so the challenge is shaping the group together.

“Once that is achieved, it is fabulous time for all. Everyone sings from the bus there to the bus home!”

The team at My Holiday Place all have backgrounds in performing arts, as well as being qualified carers, something that Emmie said was important to her vision.

She added: “They are just not holiday reps, they are entertainers. They are there to make everything super fun. If you have a dry person hosting the day, it will not be as fun.”

My Holiday Place also creates bespoke holidays for users who fancy seeing other parts of the world.

For more information about My Holiday Place, call 01934 713840 or www.myholidayplace.co

To read more features from East Devon Resident, click here.

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