Animal therapy has brightened up lives of vulnerable people

Making friends with a horse as part of the animal therapy sessions for people from Mansfield.
Making friends with a horse as part of the animal therapy sessions for people from Mansfield.

Getting to know animals has enriched the lives of people from Mansfield with learning disabilities and mental health needs.

They were treated to a special animal-therapy course thanks to a donation of almost £10,000 to the disability charity, United Response.

Checking a horse's legs was one of the duties on the course.

Checking a horse's legs was one of the duties on the course.

The quintet learned about animal welfare, worked with horses, sheep and other farm animals, and also received careers advice.

Mansfield-based United Response job coach Simon Arnold said: “This was a unique course and brilliant for the people we support.

“Animal therapy and interacting with animals reduces stress and anxiety, and brightens up the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

United Response received £9,979 from the Big Lottery Fund to pay for three eight-week courses in the East Midlands. The five people from Mansfield who are supported by the charity did their course at the Acacia Centre in Kirkby and the Hagg Farm outdoor education centre in the Peak District, developing the skills, confidence and ability to work with and care for animals.

Hands-on work at the Hagg Farm outdoor educational centre.

Hands-on work at the Hagg Farm outdoor educational centre.

Among those who went along were Sian Davies and Ricky Holt. Sian said: “I love animals. I have done horse care and worked with horses and farm animals before.”

Ricky said: “I want to work with animals in the future. I have worked with donkeys and pigs before.”

United Response fundraiser Carol Clark said: “We were delighted to receive such a generous donation, which has made a huge difference to people’s lives.

“It has enabled people we support to relax, improve their wellbeing and earn opportunities to work and volunteer in an industry they are passionate about.

Earning the trust of a horse on the farm.

Earning the trust of a horse on the farm.

“We believe activities like this can give people more independence, greater happiness and an improved quality of life.”

United Response has been supporting people with disabilities and mental health needs for more than 40 years.

Grooming a horse was one of the activities learned on the course.

Grooming a horse was one of the activities learned on the course.