Surrey Docks Farm Response to Covid-19

Surrey Docks Farm is carefully monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and is following government advice to limit the spread of the virus. The Farm is closed to visitors and our onsite delivery of community projects is all on hold while the lockdown is in place.

On the 1st June, a new Statutory Instrument (SI) became law, which puts several significant amendments in place for reopening visitor attractions,including farms. As such Surrey Docks Farm is legally required to remain closed to visitors throughout June and can only reopen when notified it is safe to do so.

Our priorities at this time are ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers, maintaining animal care standards and adapting delivery for our participants. We also have serious financial concerns to address, our costs continue but income is drastically effected so we are working on new ways to sustain the Farm through this period.

Thank you for all your comments of support on social media and via email. We will get back to you as soon as we can and are thinking of you all.

What is the Farm doing?

  • We’ve closed to the public to reduce the amount of people and potential to carry the virus into the Farm
  • We’ve had to furlough some project staff who no longer have income to support their roles or can’t safely travel to the Farm
  • We’re maintaining a small team of staff and existing skilled volunteers (who live locally and aren’t showing symptoms) to care for the animals and grow food on our plots
  • We’ve closed and alarmed two buildings and are disinfecting our high contact areas e.g. door handles, backs of chairs and tables
  • Wherever possible we’re adapting projects to enable remote delivery and keep in touch 
  • We’re posting daily photos and videos across our social media sites
  • We’ve offered those who have paid for parties, workshops and activities a refund or the option to postpone up to a year ahead


How can you help?

Here are a few ways you can support the Farm through this challenging time:

  • Help us reach our target £28,000 to cover the animal care costs during the 4 month closure via this donation campaign
  • Order a gift from our wishlist such as new brushes, heat lamps for our new lambs/goat kids, seed for the wild birds etc.
  • Shop online and buy organic eggs and fresh vegetables from us, pay online and collect from the Farm gates six days a week.
  • Interested in growing your own food from home? Visit our gardening shop. We have seed kits, plants, compost and more!
  • Keep in touch via our social media sites or send some snail mail – messages of support are always welcome! We might be slow responding as we’re prioritising the animals but we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 


How can I get in touch?

We are not able to monitor the Farm phone at present, as everyone at the Farm is working outside. Email is the best form of contact and you can find out who is still reachable via our Contact Us page. But please bare with us as we’re getting lots of enquiries at present and are doing our best to keep on top of things!




Volunteer Guidance
We still need to keep the Farm running – to care for the animals and ensure the plants are watered and tended so that we have a thriving site when we can welcome everyone back!
New Volunteers
We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of enquiries from local people who now have more time on their hands and are keen to volunteer. Unfortunately we’re not able to take on any new volunteers at present. We have to limit the number of people on site to ensure social distancing and keep everyone safe. 
Conditions for Volunteering
We are still welcoming a small number of our regular volunteers for agreed shifts, but in order to protect our community and ensure we have a healthy team to do this work; we ask volunteers to keep up to date with current government informatiohere and to adhere to these four steps:

1. Please stay away if you or anyone in your household exhibits any of the Covid-19 symptoms (cough and high temperature)
2. Please stay away if you are in a more vulnerable group
3. Please stay away if you are a volunteer that would have to travel on public transport to get here
4. Those who are able to come will be asked to wash their hands thoroughly on arrival and to adhere to any H&S guidelines from staff

Limiting travel on public transport
In line with government advice we need to limit the use of public transport. We’re asking volunteers not to come in via public transport – for many of you this will mean you can’t come to the Farm. We’re so sorry for any disappointment but the Farm will still be here and will need your help when all this has passed! We are posting images on social media daily and will keep in touch with you as best we can.

Getting into the Farm
We have locked the gates to limit the number of people coming in and we’ve set up a temporary mobile phone to act as a gate buzzer. Please call 07309730531 to be let in through the Rotherhithe Street entrance. This phone can then be carried by whoever is on duty. Please don’t call it for any other reason as we only have a small team here and we need to get on with the animal care work.

Keeping in touch
We are prioritising the animal care and aren’t manning the main Farm phone. If you need to get in touch please email and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Work Experience Guidance
Pre-booked Placements
We’ve cancelled all work experience placements up until the end of July and will review government advice nearer the time for placements in August and beyond.
If you’ve booked a placement in April, May, June or July you should have received an email from Gemma cancelling your placement, we’ll be happy to rearrange in the not too distant future when it’s safe to bring you back.
New Placements
We’re not offering any new placements at present. Please check back in September when we will be reviewing our work experience offer in line with government advice at the time.

Farm Closed until mid-July
In line with new legislation released on June 1st, we’re not allowed to open up as a visitor attraction until at least 4th July and it could be longer. Even then, we’ll need to come up with safe ways for people to maintain social distancing and not put our staff or volunteers at risk.
Pre-booked Visits
We’re looking at the possibility of offering pre-booked free visits for families, in order to limit numbers on site. We’re drawing up risk assessments, one-way systems and reviewing how we can handle the additional admin side of bookings. We’ll keep you posted as things develop and hope to welcome visitors in this way from August.

Projects Closed 
In line with guidance and in order to keep students, support workers and staff safe we had to close our training projects for adult students with learning disabilities. Our students contribute a great deal to the daily running of the Farm, so staff have been working hard to keep things going without them – from caring for the animals, to watering and tending the plots, to harvesting fruit and freezing for jam making later in the year! We’re also phoning as often as we can and sending a weekly newsletter by email or post.
Returning to the Farm
We’re aiming to offer students and their families or support workers visits to the Farm over the coming weeks in order to ease back and see the site after so long. Some training projects are largely outside which is safer, but social distancing will be a real challenge. We’ll keep in touch and share our plans and keep working on risk assessments in order to welcome students back once it is safe.

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