Community Fund: Sheffield Mutual donate £834 to Whirlow Hall Farm Trust

Posted on June 20, 2019

As Laura and Dawn pulled into the car park, they both noticed how busy Whirlow Hall Farm was – despite it being a rather chilly Tuesday afternoon in June.

They were there to see the new piece of equipment (known as the ‘Squeezer’) that Trust and Grants Fundraiser, Ruth Gage at Whirlow Hall Farm requested funding for from the Sheffield Mutual Community Fund back in March.

The equipment will benefit and support the children they work with who have ADHD and other sensory impairing conditions.

The Squeezer

The Squeezer

Penny Thompson, Primary Alternative Provision Teacher at Whirlow Hall said:

“All the kids love the Squeezer. The donation from Sheffield Mutual has allowed us to buy a piece of equipment we wouldn’t have had the resources to purchase ourselves.

The Squeezer provides deep pressure for additional sensory input. In a similar way to babies being calmed by swaddling and being wrapped tightly in a blanket, deep pressure can be soothing and relaxing.”

The farm is a multi-sensory environment with lots of opportunities to use your sense of smell, taste, touch, sound and of course, sight.

At Whirlow Hall Farm, many of the students have sensory processing issues, which means they find it difficult to self-regulate. Some of the students seek sensory experiences and others avoid them, some can become overwhelmed, whilst others are passive.


Penny said:

“For people that are touch sensitive or seek more feedback from their body and muscles our new Squeezer is a great help. The students feed their body through the two rollers giving them a deep pressure hug. Pulling their body though the roller also helps strengthen the muscles and improves motor skills and coordination.”

The Squeezer is used during the Alternative Provision programmes which are held five days a week during term time. The programmes are tailored for children at-risk of permanent exclusion, children who are permanently excluded, children with special educational needs and disabilities and children who are disengaged from learning.

Penny went on to say:

“We work with around 40 children age 5-16 each year who find school a challenge and attend alternative provision at the farm. These children often have sensory needs that have not been diagnosed, meaning that they find the school environment overwhelming.

At Whirlow, we try to get to the root of the child’s problem and with the generous support of local businesses we can provide the right support for Sheffield’s youngsters, keeping them on track for a bright future.”


All sessions are individualised to meet each learners’ needs, with a mixture of class-based and outdoor-based activities.

Penny leads the Primary Inclusion groups at Whirlow and is currently studying for an MA at the University of Sheffield in Education, Teaching and Learning.

“My studies have led me to delve into the reasons behind fixed term exclusions in primary schools. Many of the children excluded have Special Educational Needs, such as, Attachment Disorder, trauma, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Autism and Pathological Demand Disorder. Within all these conditions, 90% have sensory processing issues. Basically, the children are very sensitive, and any little thing can send them into meltdown. The farm environment helps reduce anxiety, partly through building relationships with staff and children and partly the effect of biophilia and animal assisted activities.”

Laura Browse, Campaign and Communications Officer at Sheffield Mutual said:

“It was great to visit Whirlow Hall Farm and see how our donation has made such a massive difference already.”

For more information about our Community Fund, click here.

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By Laura

Twitter: @SheffieldMutual

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