Dandelion Time uses the therapeutic potential of the natural world to help vulnerable children to achieve lasting positive change.
Dandelion Time helps children who are struggling with the effects of trauma, abuse or neglect.
Children spend time on their farm with animals and crafts, enabling them to overcome emotional difficulties, grow in confidence and begin to love and trust again.
The Children’s Commissioner estimates that 2.3 million children in England are at risk from living within vulnerable family settings. Of these, 70% do not currently have access to appropriate help, leading to an increase in mental health difficulties (Childhood Vulnerability in England 2019).
Many vulnerable children are left without the guidance and support required to help prevent permanent school exclusion, family breakdown or permanent mental health challenges.
It is difficult to bring meaningful and sustainable change to challenging home lives and poor family relationships without an approach that tackles whole-family issues.
The demand for the Dandelion Time’s service is substantial. They receive up to 240 enquiries for referrals a year and only have capacity to work with 120. There are up to 30 children awaiting placement at any time.
Children are referred to Dandelion Time by schools, social services and other agencies when support in other settings has been insufficient for their more complex needs. Dandelion Time closely consult referring agencies about local needs and provision.
The mainstay is a programme of twice daily, three-hour long group family sessions which have the guidance and encouragement of supportive therapeutic staff.
The calming rural setting of Dandelion’s gardens and farm provides an opportunity for children to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of physical activities. Outdoor games and exercise promote good physical and mental health and provide families with space to breathe and relax which is so often lacking in their day-to-day lives.
The environment in which the work is done is set up to suit the families, rather than a traditional more therapist-friendly setting found in talking therapy. This is key to the methodology; that participants are using their hands and moving as well as talking, making that connection between body and mind when healing their relationships.
Age 6, Ben had experienced life no child should have to endure. Ben witnessed extreme levels of violence and abuse, deprived of the love and security every child deserves.
Ben arrived at Dandelion Time with his adoptive mother Sally; a detached, withdrawn little boy unable to trust and connect with anyone. Ben struggled emotionally and physically; recoiling from touch and refusing eye contact, only displayed emotion when playing computer games.
Guided by our therapists, Sally and Ben began to build a connection so absent in Ben’s previous life. Spending time with our baby guinea pigs Sally showed Ben how to make them feel safe and secure. Ben began to hold the tiny, soft babies in his arms, feeling them snuggle up for warmth and security while feeding them dandelion leaves. We saw Ben develop a sense of empathy caring for these new lives. He even made their hutch, providing a “comfy, cosy nest” to sleep in and stay warm.
Ben and Sally gradually worked to bring down the barriers Ben had installed to protect himself. Sally said that for the first time since Ben’s adoption, she “felt hope” for their relationship and Ben’s future.
At the end of their time with us Ben had taken some huge steps forward. He was more engaged at home and school and began to trust the people around him. His relationship with Sally has gone from strength to strength and Sally recently said that Ben hugs her for the first time in his life.