Today’s article is written by Mandy Worsely, an adoptive mum to two children. Mandy tells us about her journey to becoming a mum and how her family have created Chetham Farm Retreat. It’s a beautiful retreat and holistic hub in the stunning Lancashire countryside. Her vision is to be able to offer therapeutic support for adoptive families from the retreat. It looks amazing. If you’d like to find out more, visit their website or follow Mandy on Instagram @chethamfarmretreat.
We are Mandy and Steven Worsley and we became parents through adoption 14 years ago. Our nine month old son came home forever on 10th June 2005. It was the best day of my life. After many years of heartache, six rounds of IVF and a miscarriage, it was a very special day for us and one we celebrate each year. Our son is now 15 and loves this day as it’s like an extra birthday every year.
We then went onto complete our family when we adopted our 11 month old daughter in November 2007. That meant another special gotcha day to add to the family calendar. We’re now a happy family of four.
My husband set up his own business in 2005 so he could have more time at home and be a hands on dad. I worked part time for the NHS. Life was good but we had a vision and a dream to build our own house on our family farm. This process was a long and expensive battle with our local council. But like other challenges we’d already overcome in our life, we tackled it head on and didn’t take no for an answer.
Between 2013 and 2015, the plans for the house developed from just a family home into a business venture too. This is what the council wanted us to do to be able to go ahead with the build. So, the idea of Chetham Farm Retreat was born. The original idea was for a home with a B & B business attached. But if I’m honest, this didn’t really sing to me.
As I lay in bed one night on the farm in the caravan we’d moved into with the kids, two cats and a guinea pig, it came to me. Why not make it a place for adopted or foster families to come and stay? It could be a place where they could relax and bond and take time out to just be a family.
I’d just taken redundancy from my job in the NHS after 26 years and was looking for something I could retrain in. I came across a programme called Relax Kids. This is a programme that helps children and adults to learn relaxation techniques through movement of the body, yoga, massage, mindfulness and meditation.
Following my training in 2017, I started working freelance with schools, adoptive and foster families to offer emotional health and well-being support. Using all my experience as a paediatric nurse working in mental health, relax kids training and other training I’ve done over the past few years including positive touch through story massage, I’ve enhanced my skills and knowledge.
I’ve worked closely with my local authority, talking to prospective adopters. I was also an active panel member for an adoption charity in Manchester. All the while the retreat was taking shape and being built.
After 17 months of caravan living, we were finally able to move into half the house and get the B & B up and running.
At this stage we were also staying in the guest bedrooms so if we had a booking, we all had to pile into one room! A few months later we where able to move into our own bedrooms leaving all three guest rooms free for families to come and stay.
The retreat has also evolved from just being a B & B to becoming a holistic hub where we run yoga, meditation and workshops for all aspects of emotional health and well being. My vision of working with adoptive families from the retreat and offering therapeutic support is still an ongoing project.
We’ve been contacted by Cambridge LA who want to send a few families to us. They describe the package of support we offer as unique and not on offer anywhere else in the UK. It’s amazing that we’ve been recognised as providing a service that is needed. But that in itself brings its own challenges. We really hoped that these breaks could be funded by the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) but so far this hasn’t been possible.
I believe that is because we are breaking the mould. Stepping outside of the traditional and offering something bespoke, unique and innovative. I just see this as another challenge we have to face. We won’t give up on our dream to help and support adoptive families.
We’ve worked with many outside of the retreat setting and also had self funded families come and stay. We’ll keep on pushing to be recognised by the ASF, which will then make our service accessible to all families in need of this vital work.
We’ve also started fostering babies in the past two years. This has filled our life with fun, love and laugher. We believe 2020 is the year that Chetham Farm Retreat will become the centre of support for many families in need. Please take a look at our website and all our other social media platforms to keep up-to-date with our story and progress.