Save our bacon! Surrey Docks Farm appeals for community help after budget gets sliced

News Desk (28 January, 2016)

Council cuts 25% of its funding from Rotherhithe attraction

7560Surrey Docks Farm livestock manager Claire Elson and marketing manager Hugh Watson

Surrey Docks Farm has made an urgent plea to SAVE THEIR BACON after massive funding cuts have put the future of the “little gem” at risk.

It costs £400,000 a year to keep the working farm of around two hundred animals running and £24,000 a year just for the food, bedding and vet’s bills.

After Southwark Council announced it was planning to cut its grant to the farm by a quarter, Surrey Docks staff put a call out to the News for the whole community to help save it from the chop by making a small donation or visiting the farm shop.

“We’re going to have to look for funding to keep my role open,” said livestock manager Claire Elson, who looks after the day-to-day care of the animals, including keeping them fed and helping them to give birth.

Peckham-born and bred, Claire has been at the farm for sixteen years, since she first did her work experience there aged fourteen.

“I just love the fact the farm is here to educate. Little children come here who’ve never seen a cow before. You ask them where beef burgers come from and they say ‘Tesco’. “Every day has so many highlights because you get to see the kids’ faces. It’s what I love doing,” she said.

With a gaping hole in the budget, Claire is appealing for everyone who treasures the free farm to show their support in whatever way they can.

“Please, please help us keep going and keep our little gem in the middle of Rotherhithe alive. We are a very rare farm where you can get hands on contact. We’ve been going for 40 years and I think that demonstrates how important it is to everyone around us,” she said.

Manager Gemma Hooper added: “We really do value the support from the council for so many years, and going forward. We understand that they do need to make cuts.”

Cllr Michael Situ, Southwark’s cabinet member for communities and safety, said: “The council recognises the value that Surrey Docks Farm adds to the lives of local people, offering those living in the heart of the capital the opportunity to learn more about farms and animals. This is a fantastic resource and we are very proud to have it in the borough. However, as we prepare for a 23.8 percent cut to our government funding over the next four years, on top of huge savings we’ve already had to find, we have no choice but to reconsider all the grants we award to other organisations. The farm has been allocated a substantial sum of £42,713 next year, and we’re confident it has the capacity to sustain its future by bringing in additional funding from other sources.”

To make a donation or find out more, please visit www.surreydocksfarm.org.uk

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