Educational opportunities and Supported Placements

Many vulnerable people also come to our project and take part in volunteering, educational or work experience as part of their rehabilitation back to everyday life, having experienced problems through mental health issues, trauma, amputation or as part of a programme working towards independence and the development of life skills for adults with learning difficulties. The AVCP uses horses as tool for learning. A relationship developed with a horse can offer challenges which help to overcome fears, build up trust, respect and compassion whilst improving communication skills, problem solving and coping techniques. Learning to care for a horse, feed and maintain a daily stable routine promotes skills which are transferable to many other areas of ordinary day to day life and in the young contribute to better long term outcomes in adulthood.

Work experience

The AVCP works with local organisations such as Connexions, job centres, specialist and mainstream schools to provide work experience placements for young people who have not flourished in or been excluded from mainstream education. Our project draws people from the Dover area including wards which feature in National statistics as among the most deprived in England.

Parent testimonial

“My son has been kindly offered a part time work experience at the AVCP, where he has attended for two years. He has been learning a wide range of skills and working as part of a team. He has thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ve seen his confidence and self-esteem grow. He has now secured a place on a college course and I have every reason to think he now has the self-confidence, social skills and motivation to finish the course and achieve.”


The project welcomes both mainstream volunteers who contact us from volunteer centres and vulnerable clients who are referred to the AVCP through care organisations, often vulnerable clients will attend with a support worker. The participant will take part in one of the AVCP activities and then extend their time learning to help with general duties, or taking on specific roles within the project.

Case study

Mr B is a 37 year old man with learning disabilities and epilepsy. He lives in a small care home with 6 other residents. Mr B began attending the AVCP for work experience and has made progress in a number of areas. Due to his epilepsy Mr B has difficulty concentrating for long periods of time, can be forgetful and his mood can be changeable. Whilst at the project he has been able to apply himself to set tasks, and with support to carry them through to completion. Key to this success is the practical nature of the tasks and the tangible results achieved. Also the application of these tasks in the wider picture of stable management helps to encourage enthusiasm and responsibility.

He is able to work with others as part of a team and is given the opportunity to make decisions independently. Mr B is learning about basic horse care tasks and other vocational skills such as developing his communication skills in a workplace environment and is keen to learn. This is the first opportunity that Mr B has had to complete work experience as past placements at other organisation had broken down.

Educational opportunities

The AVCP can provide educational opportunities with training towards accredited awards. By gaining new knowledge and working within a supportive environment trainees can gain Association of British Riding School Progressive tests in horse care or work towards AVCP awards in horse and small animal care. The Alkham Valley Community Project is an approved KEITS training provider.

So how do supported placements benefit those taking part?

Supported placements provide safe supervised access to equines and the countryside. Activities aim to promote:

  • Enhancement of life skills
  • Development of work related skills
  • Improvements in self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem
  • Improvement in physical health through exercise
  • Improved mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement
  • The opportunity to be part of a team, working in a friendly supportive environment, connecting with others – reducing feelings of isolation or exclusion
  • Acquiring new skills to improve the chances of finding employment

If you are interested in education opportunities or have any questions then please contact us or ring 01304 825 292