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Read what our charities say about us

Sarah Giles is Director of FarmAbility, a charity that runs a programme for co-farmers (people with learning disabilities and autism) based at our site in Wytham, Oxford. Below she shares why she nominated Benchmark for the Oxford Business Charity Awards 2018.

Companies give to charities in different ways; through corporate volunteering, in-kind donations of time and skills, and of course financial support.

What makes Benchmark’s support of our charity almost unique, and the reason I nominated them for this award, is the nature of the support we receive, and the impact this has on our charity.

Benchmark’s support comes in the shape of the farm – they share their farm with us, and this provides the environment and all the key ingredients we need to run programmes for co-farmers. This includes the animals, the vegetable gardens, the orchards, the woodworking space, the warm break space, the barn for our celebrations, the office for our charity, and the routes for our dog walks.

School students gain life skills at FarmAbility

Benchmark’s contribution doesn’t stop at sharing their physical space and animals with us, as significant as that is. The myriad people who either regularly or occasionally meet our co-farmers on the farm – from the team’s farm manager and farm staff, to their science and operations team, visiting personnel from the wide range of Benchmark companies both national and international, and the plc’s own CEO and CFO; they are all interested in and committed to the concept of using the farm to bring value to the lives of people who face challenges. And they all embody this interest and commitment in the way they interact with co-farmers, creating social connections with people who are often quite isolated.

This model of support is a brave and innovative one – many commercial farms would simply see too many barriers and challenges to welcoming us on to their farm, and to allowing us to be such a prescient and vocal presence on their farm!

Benchmark has shared their farm with us for 6 years now, enabling us to impact positively on the lives of over 100 people with learning disabilities and autism. Throughout this time, the farm has experienced a number of changes in the way it is managed and in its business and it has weathered various challenges. But Benchmark’s support of FarmAbility has remained a constant, and without it we simply wouldn’t have a programme.

Benchmark and FarmAbility receiving their nomination at their shared site in Wytham, Oxford

I nominated Benchmark because we reckon they don’t shout nearly often enough and never loud enough about what they do for us. We are so grateful for what Benchmark gives us and we would like them to be recognised and applauded for their commitment to inclusion and to meaningful occupation for everyone.

Sarah Giles

Director of FarmAbility