Bill and Lola Hair started New Haven as an accommodation service back in 1960. Having two sons with a disability, they wanted to provide a secure and caring environment for their loved ones. It was a welcome alternative to the existing services that were available at the time. Bill and Lola erected buildings that housed our first clients in a home-like environment. Some of those original clients are still living at New Haven Farm Home today. After some years, New Haven became a registered Charity and was named “New Haven Farm Home for Handicapped Boys” Inc., before eventually becoming New Haven Farm Home Ltd. The ‘Farm’ as most locals call it, was operated as a farm, with livestock and a recycling business.
Over a period of 20 years, and with the help of many community members, Bill & Lola Hair enhanced the existing homes and infrastructure at ‘The Farm’. Improvements included the development of new facilities such as a purpose built hostel. The construction of the new hostel was completed in 1980, providing accommodation to an additional 16 clients, with a then state of art bathroom and ensuite facilities, as well as dining room and commercial kitchen. During the 1980s, and throughout the 1990s the direction of support for people living at ‘The Farm’ transformed from a rural, agricultural emphasis to a more community focus. New Haven Farm Home still operates as a charity and though our facilities have changed significantly, we still hold Bill and Lola’s original values of respect and care at the forefront of all we do.
Mum and dad started New Haven Farm in April 1960 to offer an alternative lifestyle for people with a disability. They donated 60 acres so people with a disability could enjoy living a farm life after leaving school at 16. The catalyst was that they wanted a better place for my oldest brother Billy, who lived at ‘Peat Island’ at the time. There was only Peat Island, Callen Park, Milson Island, or Rydalmere providing accommodation services for the ‘Mentally Retarded’. New Haven was one of the first of its kind in the State of NSW and was considered, at the time, a new way of living.
– Bob hair
People living at ‘The Farm’ have always enjoyed the convenience of the two town centres of Windsor & Richmond, as well as exploring the world beyond the beautiful Hawkesbury District. Since the late 1990s there has been a large emphasis on community participation and integration and this tradition continues today. While the first 25 years of operations of ‘The Farm’ focused on farming, livestock management and recycling, over the next 25 years ‘The Farm’s’ vision changed to a focus on service. This included a commitment to community participation and lifestyle skills development. Gradually over time, as individuals were supported in developing the necessary skills required to participate in their community, they made their own choices, enjoying an enhanced quality of life and developing living and vocational skills to their full potential. This tradition continues and is now aided by New Haven Farm’s commitment to our person centred support approach, which is now an integral part of our mission.
In order to create opportunities for people living with a disability to live in a more homely environment, New Haven Farm Home developed programs in conjunction with a facility we called ‘The Cottages’ in early 2000. These Cottages consisted of two houses which provided a homely environment to 8 people. The focus of this program was to develop necessary home care and domestic skills for the more independent residents. The program has been very successful and has enabled clients to develop the necessary competencies for living in a community home in the town of Richmond. In 2016, The Cottages were refurbished to provide accommodation for four clients.
The original, purpose built buildings were inevitably altered by the implacable passing of time and after they were replaced, these images remain to tell a wealth of stories about a long history.