ANIMAL THERAPY GIVEN A HELPING HAND BY WPH CHARITABLE TRUST

The Leamington-based Pilgrims Christian Community Farm, which uses horses to help provide therapy for adults and children with mental health difficulties, has been awarded £2,000 from the WPH Charitable Trust.

The money will help meet the cost of sessions, each lasting between one and two hours, which are free for families or individuals attending the farm.

Those who attend live with a range of issues including depression, anxiety, personality disorders and autism.

There is no upper or lower age limit and visitors can also benefit from interaction with any of Pilgrim’s animals.

Run entirely by a team of volunteers, every penny raised by Pilgrims is spent directly on the animals’ upkeep, or towards any other equipment or resources needed to run the sessions.

The facility costs some £9,000 a year to run.

Alice Evans, who established Pilgrims with her husband Steve, said the object of the farm is to validate the difficulties and experiences of visitors, and to give them encouragement, helping them to make changes and improvements.

By drawing on their own previous experiences with mental health issues, the volunteers have devised a series of activities with the horses to explain techniques used in psychological therapies. This enables people to understand more about their own difficulties and gain the confidence to try new strategies.

Alice said: “With families in particular, we find that those who come to us feel completely isolated. Their children have challenging needs and they find it difficult to do something even as simple as taking them to the park as it could trigger a panic attack. But here, in a safe environment, we teach them how to communicate and interact with the animals, which is particularly important for those with autism as they can find communication and interaction difficult.”

During their first visit volunteers work with the visitors to establish their difficulties and the areas they’d like to work on – whether coping with depression, developing interpersonal skills, dealing with challenging behaviour or managing emotions.

Alice said: “The money from WPH Charitable Trust will make a huge difference to people who are really struggling with serious mental health conditions. A lot of them do not have any other support.

“We provide them with a facility in which they can be fully involved and valued in their own little community.”

WPH Charitable Trust provides funding for individuals, groups and organisations which work to prevent, relieve and cure sickness in Coventry and Warwickshire. The Trust provides grants for medical research,
buildings, equipment and other forms of medical care for residents of the region. All applications are made via the Trust’s website, and are assessed on a quarterly basis.

For further details log on to www.warwickshirehealthcharity.org.uk

Alternatively, applications can be sent by post to: Secretary to the WPH Charitable Trust, c/o Blythe Liggins, Edmund House, Rugby Road, Leamington Spa, CV32 6EL.

Pilgrims Christian Community Farm Pilgrims Christian Community Farm

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