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Book: Sanctuary Farm First 12 Stories - Sanctuary Farm Foster Stories by A.K. Harris

Book: Sanctuary Farm First 12 Stories - Sanctuary Farm Foster Stories by A.K. Harris

categories: Book, Child Abuse, Neglect, Poverty, Social Justice, Social Services, Farming, Smallholding, Foster Families, Abuse Survivors, Childhood Trauma, Rural Community, Fostering


A.K. Harris

about this book: On an island on the UK coast is a smallholding called Sanctuary, run by retired farmers, Joe and Kitty, nearby their son and his wife, Zak and Marie, run a sheep farm wth a thousand ewes. Joe and Kitty normally foster primary school aged children, mainly on short term placements but sometimes longer term, although social services are sometimes short of carers for other age groups and needs and ask Kitty and Joe to step in.

The farm provides a therapeutic and safe space for the foster children as well as keeping Kitty and Joe occupied and fit. Joe would never be able to give up farming completely, he grew up on a farm and it has been a way of life since he was young so he can't be without animals to tend, Sanctuary is beneficial to everyone.

With animals and children, there is never a dull moment, ups and downs, new life and tragedy, tears and laughter. The stories tell of the progress and adventures of both the children and the animals as well as Kitty and Joe.

Kitty and Joe started fostering a while after the tragic death of their son Edward, when they were looking for new hope and ways to fill their hearts again; Edward is sometimes mentioned in the stories but his story and the full story of the family is only hinted at in these short stories, and will be told in another book. Edward's life and death helped to give Kitty and Joe understanding and insight that has aided them in helping their foster children.

Children arrive in all kinds of situations, some are sad, some are angry, some have very little with them and need new clothes and school equipment, some children arrive hungry or injured or bereaved, some have had such unusual lives that 'normal' is alien to them, and some are desperate to get back to their families no matter what has happened there. But no matter who arrives at Sanctuary, they are welcomed with love and kindness and made as comfortable as possible while their future is arranged.

Joe and Kitty's great compatibility and sense of humour helps to ensure that the fostering and the smallholding run well and work together. And they are far from isolated in their busy lives, as friends and family in the friendly local community rally round. Kitty and Joe take part in the running of local events such as the horticultural show and the Bethlehem Nativity, and they encourage the children to take part, just as they encourage the children to help on the farm and to be proud of their contributions as they benefit from the friendly presence of the animals. Sanctuary is everyone's Sanctuary, as long as everyone sticks to the boundaries for safety and wellbeing.

The book contains details of Kitty and Joe's obligatory interactions with social services, medical services, schools, police, and training services as part of their roles as foster carers. There is a lot more to fostering than some may realise, for example ID cards are required for going to schools, hospitals and social services meetings.

The stories are inspired by my experiences of childhood, farming, and island life. The book's title is simply the name given to the smallholding, which Kitty and Joe named themselves in order to give the place its purpose after Edward's death and their retirement from commercial farming. Sanctuary Farm Foster Stories are set to appeal to most people across the age ranges, as suitable for teens as for older people, and designed to be gentle and inclusive. The cover was chosen as the farm is set near a beach where the foster children love to play. The stories are intended to draw the reader in and include them.

I learned from the book that sometimes the story takes over and writes itself, I may have the idea, but the finished story is sometimes something different, and I write these stories in order to share understanding of the challenges of fostering children whose childhoods are affected by adults getting things wrong. The farming and community side of the stories add a unique breath of life and colour.

There are currently 14 Sanctuary Farm Foster Stories in print, as well as one Hillside Farm Foster Story, Hillside Farm being the sister farm run by Kitty and Joe's son, Zak, and his wife Marie. Each story is available individually or in collections of three on Amazon.

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Other books by A.K. Harris

Stepping out of the Circle - An account of a Childhood by A.K. Harris
Rough Diamond Island - A Rough Guide to the Isle of Wight by A.K. Harris
A Growing Business : Freelance Gardening Course by A.K Harris

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