Set in 200 acres of East Anglian countryside, Potsford Farm is a thriving care farm which has become a much loved and trusted community asset.
“The service provided was absolutely brilliant - Charlotte has a lot of knowledge, gave clear instructions and guidelines and always kept us on topic. We would have never completed our agenda if it was not for her great facilitation.” Read the full review
Established back in 2010, Potsford Farm is an accredited care farm, providing a lifeline of activity and engagement for adults who have particular mental health needs, or have a diagnosis of a learning disability or autism.
It is led by directors Nathan and Kevin, who are care farmers from a background in mental health nursing.
Also directors in the operation, are the owners of the land itself – who themselves had backgrounds in health and social care.
The care farm itself has a broad array of activities for ‘co-farmers’ to become immersed in. As well as working with livestock, they can work with horses and take part in carriage driving, help with growing and cooking produce, or try their hand at restoring furniture or a variety of art and craft activities.
With a total of 20 staff, including those classed as volunteers, there has always been a need for a degree of HR support at the farm.
As the business evolved, Kevin and Nathan sought various solutions, including a consultancy provision at one stage, and then a more ‘basic’ offering via their insurance provider.
While no specific alarm bells had caused the directors to feel underserved by their existing HR option, they increasingly began to feel that they were accessing only a ‘basic call-centre approach’ whenever they had a query related to employee matters.
Over time, they recognised that this was simply not a robust way to serve their business, and nor was it enabling a provider to ‘get to know them’ and to truly understand what might work well for the care farm and its employees and volunteers.
The case for support
It was in the summer of 2020, some months into the pandemic, that Kevin, Nathan and their fellow directors began to discuss whether they might approach a dedicated HR consultancy.
They had recognised a need to have a more bespoke offering, and were in particular looking for advice and guidance with a matter requiring the ‘tupe’ of a number of staff.
Kevin explains: “It had been clear for some time that we were really only getting a kind of ‘call centre’ approach from our existing provider, and as with so many businesses during Covid, we encountered things which required specific answers and support.
“In particular, we needed to TUPE some staff as a result of closing an aspect of our business which provided ‘home-based care’.
“These reasons combined to mean that it was the perfect time to consider a very professional outfit who would want to take time to get to know us.
“From the moment I chatted to MAD-HR and got the sense of their personal and really informed and engaged approach, I knew it was the right thing for us to start working with them.”
Much to the delight of Kevin and Nathan, MAD-HR showed a genuine desire from the outset, to get to ‘understand’ Potsford Farm.
They visited the site, met with the team, witnessed the kind of activities taking place, and really learned what it was that the directors wanted to achieve in both the immediate and longer term.
While the initial TUPE work was a very specific piece of HR support, the MAD team was then able to explore a much broader selection of needs which Potsford had identified, or would benefit from.
Kevin says: “They really quickly began to get everything in order for us – from contracts to handbooks, to helping us deal with absence management issues.
“We were able to ask lots of questions of them along the way, and always felt like they were fully working in our interests, and wanting to make changes which would benefit us for the long term.”
Potsford Farm now works with MAD-HR on a monthly retainer relationship, and benefits from being able to ring or enquire about issues at any time.
This is something which brings huge comfort to the directors.
“You can’t put a price on being able to pick up the phone and get the friendly expert advice and support that we do from Charlotte and Pauline and the team,” says Kevin.
“They really are exceptional. It’s such a personal approach and that’s incredibly reassuring. We wonder why we didn’t move to them long before we did!”.
Top client tip
Kevin says: “Don’t settle for an HR service just because it seems cheaper or because it’s part of another offering you get for your business. HR is way too important.
“Find a consultancy where the people are really going to want to get to know you, and where they genuinely want to succeed. That’s what we feel we’ve found with MAD-HR.”
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