Kent Messenger Maidstone

Dandelion Time, which helps children, is our charity of the year

- By Suz Elvey @SuzElvey

Dandelion Time, which works with children and young people who have experience­d abuse and neglect, is the Kent Messenger’s charity of the year for 2016.

Based in a house in West Farleigh, with its own farm and garden, the charity has been going since 2003.

Dandelion Time works with families, offering both therapy and activities to rebuild broken bonds between parents, children and siblings and help youngsters gain confidence.

The charity was establishe­d at a small farm in Coxheath by Dr Caroline Jessel, a GP from Sutton Valence who found time and time again there was no service to refer her patients to for nonmedical help.

Initially an 18-month pilot, it now supports about 200 families a year, many of which include children who have been excluded from school.

Some of the people who walk through Dandelion Time’s doors have been unable to form proper relationsh­ips with their mothers due to the parent’s addiction, while others will have been physically, sexually or emotionall­y abused.

The charity, which mainly helps five- to 15-year-olds, specialise­s in creative, therapeu- tic activities involving working with the hands, such as making soap, baking, gardening, woodwork and playing musical instrument­s.

Children can also care for the charity’s animals – sheep, donkeys, guinea pigs and more – and meet the cat and dog.

Psychother­apy, family therapy, play therapy and a therapist who specialise­s in attachment issues and trauma are also offered. People can be referred by schools, GPs or social services or selfrefer.

About 80% of the £350,000 needed to run Dandelion Time annually comes from charitable foundation­s and fundraisin­g and the rest is Kent County Council or Maidstone Borough Council money.

Dandelion Time CEO Graham Carpenter said: “We are so grateful to have been chosen as the KM Charity of the year, which will help to recognise the huge needs and benefits of Dandelion Time’s work with children and families.”

Find out more, including how to donate, at www. dandeliont­

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 ?? Picture: Martin Apps FM4178556 ?? Charity workers at Dandelion Time at Elmscroft House, West Farleigh
Picture: Martin Apps FM4178556 Charity workers at Dandelion Time at Elmscroft House, West Farleigh

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