Justice Secretary visits Vision of Hope

A Monmouthshire charity has hosted a special visit from Justice Secretary Liz Truss to highlight its work with rehabilitating ex-offenders.

Based on Wenallt Farm near Gilwern, the Vision of Hope Animal Assisted Therapy project is run by Dinah Sansome and her husband David.

They have opened up their home and farm so young people with substance misuse issues and former offenders can benefit from on-site treatment and therapy relating to the care of animals.

Signposted from prisons, charities, social services, housing associations and other organisations, the young people live and work on the 18-acre farm learning carpentry, fencing and agricultural skills.

Ms Truss was given a tour of Wenallt Farm on Thursday before meeting some of the residents, who explained how therapy helps them build trust and bonds with the animals – many of which have been rescued.

She was joined by David Davies MP, Nick Ramsay AM and Jane Pratt, Conservative candidate for Llanelly Hill.

“You are immediately struck by how peaceful, quiet and remote the farm is yet there is a real family atmosphere,” said Mr Davies.

“The impact of the project on those determined to turn their lives around is clear to see, with the responsibility of looking after the animals instilling a strong worth ethic.

“Dinah and David are truly inspirational and have shown such incredible tolerance, patience and care to people ordinarily written off by society.”

Mr Ramsay added: “It’s always a pleasure to visit Vision of Hope and see its positive effect on ex-offenders.

“This model of rehabilitation by training prisoners in farming skills clearly works, which is demonstrated by the extremely low re-offending rates.”

Several of the residents have gone on to build lives in the local community and work for Vision of Hope, either permanently or as volunteers.