Read how mother and daughter team Jo and Ellie transformed their charity equATA with a bespoke connected series of camping cabins.
"The cabins have transformed equATA, without them we wouldn't have been able to keep going."
Our Story equATA is a not-for-profit organisation set in beautiful woodland in Northamptonshire, which uses horses and the natural environment to provide services and support for people with autism and ADHD. equATA is run by mother and daughter team Jo and Ellie and a small team of volunteers. Due to the needs of the people that visit equATA the team only work with one family at a time. A session with the horses lasts an hour, each family pays a small fee for the session and as part of that they are welcome to spend as much time as they like relaxing and playing in the cabins afterwards.
The Challenges The work that equATA does is widely recognised, they have received lottery funding and local funding to help them to continue to offer their services. The biggest challenge they faced was that they had to close in the winter months because they didn’t have a communal indoor area for the visiting family’s to use in bad weather. This meant lots of hard work and greater financial commitment from Jo and Ellie and their family, it also meant that they couldn’t offer any support to families in the winter months.
The Solutions Ellie first saw a Camping Cabin when she visited the East of England Show in 2012. Ellie thought the cabins would be the perfect to create the indoor space that equATA so desperately needed and they would fit in perfectly with the woodland setting. Due to the nature of Autism and ADHD Jo and Ellie didn't want a large open indoor space, i.e. a large cabin they wanted smaller spaces that could be used for different activities and that visitors could wander freely between in safety. After many discussions with Camping Cabins, a bespoke combination of 10m² and 14m² cabins and extensions was put together, now all equATA needed was the funding! In 2013, the funding was secured. After many discussions based on Ellie's requirements and vision, a plan for 4 connected cabins was agreed. Ellie wanted 4 spaces; a sensory room, a pool/games room, a soft play and a barbecue cabin. Camping Cabins installed one 10m² barbecue cabin and three 14m² cabins without the barbecue in the center. Each cabin is connected by a 2 meter extension.
The Result Getting funding and installing the cabins has meant that equATA can carry on operating and supporting families 12 months of the year. Jo said, "the cabins have transformed equATA without them we wouldn't have been able to carry on indefinitely. Prior to having the cabins we had to close for 3 months in the winter, which meant we didn't get any income and we couldn't support any families who so needed our services".
The cabins are used every single day and also for special events; they have been used for parties/get- togethers, open days and children's birthday parties. Jo said, "everyone loves the cabins, the children call them 'Pixie Houses' they are so relaxing, the natural materials, the smell of the wood it's wonderful. They really add value to what we offer and the families love them. We have helped 950 families in the 6 years we have been open and in 2014 we helped more families than ever before, we are averaging 20 families per week since the cabins have been installed!"
The Future With equATA being a charity, everything is funding driven, however, there are plans and funding is being sought for a further cabin and toilet/shower block so Jo and Ellie can offer families residential/overnight stays. Jo concluded "Camping Cabins have been so supportive we really appreciate all their help and one thing is for certain if and when we do expand we wouldn't consider going anywhere else!"