Caring For Life

We talked to Esther Smith Senior Pastoral Administrator at Caring For Life.

Describe Caring For Life in a paragraph
Caring For Life, more commonly known as CFL, is founded on Christian beliefs. We make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people, including people with learning disabilities, who face hardship or who have fallen through the net, for the long-term. We support people in many ways helping them to: find housing, gain skills, make friends and feel part of an extended “family”. The charity is based at Crag House Farm, in Cookridge Leeds, where we have a range of daytime projects, a housing support team known as ‘Being There’ providing support to vulnerable people living independently in the community, and two houses providing supported accommodation for vulnerable adults. We provide support for as long as people need it, and this can mean for life.

What is the background to Caring For Life
Caring For Life was founded in 1987, 25 years ago, by Peter Parkinson, the former pastor of Leeds Reformed Baptist Church, and myself to offer hope, a new family and a brighter future for those whose lives have been painful and aimless. Our base at Crag House Farm was at one time Peter’s family home and the land we now own surrounding the house has been acquired over the years, thanks to some very generous gifts.

What activities do you provide?
In addition to our housing support work, at Crag House Farm we offer a wide range of therapeutic and work experience projects during the day. These include: art, computing and media, horticulture, agriculture, woodwork, drama, conservation, catering academy, adult literacy, care of large and small animals, free range hen project, mechanics and equestrian, (including riding and driving for the disabled).

We run a café and farm shop which are open to the public six days a week. The café uses only locally sourced produce, much of which comes from the farm, for example all our cakes are homemade using eggs from our farm, we grow many salad crops and make our own preserves. The café is also a fantastic source of income that goes directly back into the charity.

Who is in the team?
We have more than 160 volunteers as well as 63 paid workers providing housing support, fundraisers, people working in the café and on the farm.

What is the best thing about your job?
Seeing people change, for the better. I enjoy seeing people transformed from being scared and broken down with no hope to having a smile on their face and something to live for.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
If we lose anyone, which does happen occasionally, it is always heartbreaking but it is part of the picture when working with vulnerable people, who have suffered abuse. Finances are also a constant challenge, we want to do so much more but have to find the money to put in.

If you had a super power what would it be and why?
I would like the power to break the cycle of abuse. It would make such a difference to so many people; I have seen the harm abuse can do.

If you could give someone you know an award, who would it be and why?
Our CEO. He has selflessly dedicated himself to CFL since it started. I think he deserves an award.


March 2012