Supporting young people in need
What we do.
A Taste of Paradise is all some kids need to find themselves, re-engage with the world, grow and thrive and learn the life skills which most of us take for granted
Tim Francis, Founder.
The Taste of Paradise charity operates a day programme which incorporates Assisted Animal Therapy, One on One mentoring and Horticultural training. Children aged five to eighteen are referred to ATOP’s day programs by Government child welfare workers and welfare agencies and individuals.
Referring agencies are strongly supportive of our programmes- as in many cases the farm provides the only positive and stabilising influences in a young person’s life.
A Taste of Paradise delivers Proven Positive Outcomes
The Farm’s programmes benefit the young people we assist in many ways, including:
- Facilitating the development of relationships based on trust, mutual respect and teamwork
- Increasing self-esteem, confidence and self-efficacy
- Providing a sense of achievement and pride in completing tasks
- Delivering practical workplace experience and developing skills for future employment
- Engaging young people and improving their attitude to life
- Assisting with attachment struggles, promoting social skills and increasing empathy
A Taste of Paradise farm is a Not for Profit registered charity based in a peaceful valley near Berry. The organisation has been operating since 1999 under the capable and caring watch of founders – Tim and Andrea Francis.
Tim came from a family heritage of Social Justice and this, combined with his love of farming, led him to volunteer work with young people. When the opportunity came to purchase the farm, Tim, along with his supportive and like-minded wife, Andrea, decided this was their chance to make a difference to young people. Tim had a vision of using his skills, (such as Farm Management, Permaculture, Horticulture and Working with Challenging Children), to mentor at-risk and disadvantaged young people, in the farm environment. Tim’s aim was to assist youth, who came from a variety of care situations, with wide-ranging issues such as mental health, intellectual and physical disabilities and behavioural issues (often related to adult neglect and abuse). Tim and Andrea’s Christian ethos and selfless desire to make a difference, saw them embark on a ambitious venture which combined ethical farming and supporting young people in need.
Tim saw the farm as a peaceful place and recognised the benefits of young people interacting with animals and the natural environment. He saw how a horse could heal a young person in a way that a human couldn’t. He also realised that a lot of the kids coming to the farm had never tasted fresh food. Introducing them to the process of food production proved to be a grounding and healing experience, with the additional benefit of developing skills for future employment.
Over time, demand for A Taste of Paradises’ services increased as referring agencies saw the therapeutic benefits the farm was having on young people. Tim’s programmes were working, whilst a lot of other programmes were failing the kids they were designed to help. Andrea and Tim saw many young people coming to the farm that were disillusioned with life and harbouring a lot of resentment after being let down by the people and authorities who were meant to help them. This only increased Tim and Andrea’s commitment to their work and the charity.
In 2011 Tim and Andrea asked four people who supported their farm mentoring concept to join them in writing a constitution and forming a Board of Directors. This enabled the charity to grow and develop to a new level.
Initially Tim was the only mentor, however over time other mentors were added to the team, growing the capability of the farm to reach more young people. Over the past 20 years, many volunteers have been part of the ongoing support and advancement of the charity. The addition of a Volunteer Office Administrator, a Marketing Volunteer and a Training Volunteer have all added value to the Charity -bringing new ideas, skills and dedication.
Since the original farm purchase, there has been much development with many buildings, water tanks and solar power added, the range of animals and activities increased and a conservation area established. Some of the activities also include Working Bees, Open Mornings, establishment of a Social Media presence, Fundraising and running a stall at the weekly Berry Farmers Market. Much of the behind the scenes work is due to our expanding team and many volunteers keen to work with Tim and the Board to help wherever they can.
Over the past 25 years Andrea, (a qualified accountant), has made significant contributions to ATOP and the local community. The charity does not receive any direct funding, so Andrea’s financial skills, monetary support and selfless contribution has been paramount to the organisations ongoing operation. As well as her work with ATOP Andrea assists local charity groups and churches with accounting and auditing services.
ATOP has developed successful partnerships with a number of organisations caring for young people in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven which include: