It has been well documented that pet ownership has health benefits and many care homes have pets to visit. But the HenPower scheme run by Equal Arts based in the North East has taken this idea further by introducing hen keeping to pensioners as a way of combating isolation, particularly in older men, and increasing health and wellbeing and community links.
The Hensioners not only take care of the hens, including incubating eggs and hatching chicks, they are also encouraged to be creative taking part in other chicken-related activity from the practical, building hen houses, to the artistic which can take many forms including song and dance!
Jessica Salter, writing for the Telegraph, describes her visit to Wood Green an assisted living centre where it all began in early 2012 and where she met Thomas Cresswell who describes why is a supporter of the scheme:
‘My life has been a lot fuller since we’ve had these hens,’ he says. ‘I think I’d be lost without them.’
The Hensioners at Wood Green are now also busy in their community, taking their chickens on roadshows to both young and old at schools and care homes. They have also spoken at conferences and welcomed interested visitors from Bangladesh!
A study by the University of Northumbria last September found that the male participants of HenPower all reported improved wellbeing, and reduced depression and loneliness. The scheme has been such a success story that HenPower have been awarded Lottery funding to both continue and extend its work.
It is a heartwarming story if you would like to read more follow this link: