A new course at Bath City Farm is offering adult learners a practical insight into animal care.
Students are learning how to feed and handle animals on the farm as part of the course, organised by the adult community learning team at Bath College.
Helen Fisher, deputy manager at Bath City Farm, gave students a tour of the farm’s animals during an introductory session in early November.
Many already volunteer at the farm, a registered charity which runs a number of different volunteering, education and training projects.
Some are part of projects at the farm, including the EarthWorks project – for people with mild to severe learning disabilities.
Ms Fisher has been running animal care courses at Bath City Farm for a number of years and has seen how they help to increase confidence.
She said: “People don’t feel comfortable if they have been out of work or school for a long time.
“At first they are quite shy of the animals and shy of talking, but once people understand that everyone is in a similar situation that really helps.”
Students will study animal behaviour to overcome any worries they may have about handling animals.
If they want to progress, Bath City Farm is offering an advanced animal care course during the spring – which could lead to a course at Bath College.
MS Fisher said: “Each week they are going to be focusing on one of the animals on the farm – they will learn how to clean them out, handle them and give them health checks.
“In the spring there’s an advanced animal course and careers advisors from Bath College will come in to discuss courses that are accredited.
“It’s a gentle way of getting there, rather than going straight in for a Level 2 animal care course.”
Full-time carer Jo Welch is hoping to start a new career working with animals and has enrolled on the course as a first step.
She said: “There’s a vet course at Bath College so I thought I would do this and see how it goes. I just want to get a little bit more knowledge about animal behaviour.”
Jeff Fanstone volunteers at Bath City Farm every Wednesday, offering his expertise in horticulture by helping to maintain the allotment.
He said: “I feel as though I should know more than I do. We get a lot of people come round and ask us questions about the animals.
“Really I just want to know the basics – feeding and handling them.”