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The voting is over - thank you for your votes!

20.11.2017

We want to offer Animal Assisted Therapy to some of the most vulnerable young people in Sheffield. We got 1287 votes - fingers crossed that will be enough to progress!

‘Some see a problem, we see potential.’

Whirlow Hall Farm Trust exists to help young people - no matter their circumstances - to make the most of their potential. We support some of the most vulnerable young people in our region to improve their life chances through engaging with life-skills and re-engagement programmes based outdoors on our working farm.

All young people on these programmes are facing multiple and complex hardships. Many struggle with ADHD, severe Autism, Asperger’s and other conditions which can make it difficult for them to live ordinary lives. Some are facing heart-breaking personal circumstances, including bereavement, bullying, and past abuse. These children often feel like they don’t ‘fit in’ with their peers, struggling to form relationships like those they see around them. They are at risk of becoming extremely isolated, and have very little confidence. Many struggle to trust others, particularly adults, as a result of negative experiences of being let down in the past. Without support, these difficulties can have a devastating impact on their future life chances, continuing throughout school into adulthood. We want to ensure that these young people are able to have the best lives possible. We give them the support and space they need to work through some of the difficulties they are facing, and help them to develop confidence, social skills and to improve their wellbeing.

We asked for your help to incorporate Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) into our existing provision. AAT is a therapeutic activity which uses engagement with animals as a form of therapy. AAT is particularly useful for young people who are struggling to form relationships with others. Animals are non-judgemental; young people can feel safe knowing there is no risk of being rejected, and are therefore able to form bonds with animals that they struggle to form with their peers. For young people who act out or struggle with hyperactivity, animals provide a calming presence; through learning to groom, feed, and care for an animal, they are learning how to be patient, caring, and understanding - skills that many of these young people struggle to develop in their day-to- day lives. Through 1:1 sessions within this safe environment, young people are more likely to open up, beginning to talk about some of the difficulties they are facing and, with the help of a therapeutic worker, begin to overcome them.

An award from Aviva would support us hiring an Animal Assisted Therapist, on a sessional basis, for one year. They will use some of our animals on the farm, in particular the horses, pony, petting animals, and goats. During this time, they will work two days a week, supporting at least 10 young people on a 1:1 basis, plus an additional 30 through small group sessions. We expect to see young people’s behaviour, confidence and wellbeing to improve as a result of these sessions. Most importantly, we expect that young people will be better equipped to build relationships with others, and as a result will have improved life chances in the future. An award would also allow us to train up our existing education team to be able to offer similar animal-assisted therapeutic activities.

We have seen first-hand how caring for animals teaches our young people caring and patience, and allows them to develop their ability to form connections with others. To be able to begin to build these kinds of interpersonal skills really is vital. With your help, we can make sure that vulnerable and disadvantage youngsters have the best possible chance in life.

Please share: https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/17-4360

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