One of our education volunteers recently ran a talk with a very special group who wanted to learn more about their recently adopted hens.
Gro-Organic, in the West Midlands, helps improve its community by creating green spaces and providing opportunities to people from all walks of life. Its ‘Dig It Crew’ programme is an award-winning scheme offering gardening sessions to those with mental health and physical disabilities to help improve their confidence, sense of pride, self-worth and overall wellbeing. Sessions are so successful, they are even prescribed on the NHS!
As part of the programme, participants have created a fruit and vegetable garden which has its own small flock of hens and this year, Christine Gill, Community Development Lead at Gro-Organic, expanded the flock by adopting hens from the BHWT and their ex-bats are well and truly enjoying their free-range retirement – just look at this gorgeous girl enjoying a sweet treat!
Christine also arranged a talk with BHWT volunteer Janice Bridger, so the crew could learn how to best care for their new arrivals and find out more about hen welfare. They even had a go at hen handling and, as such, the girls enjoyed plenty of hugs and delicious treats picked fresh from the garden’s fruit trees!
Inspired by the talk, Christine continued the hen welfare theme with the crew over the following months, even helping members to achieve an Animal Care Badge. She said there has been a marked difference in some of the crew members’ confidence as a result of spending more time with the hens.
“Holding the hens has a very calming effect on some of the crew, the hens also make them laugh with some of their antics. They are learning something new and it opens up their horizons.”
The participants have also felt the benefits that hen keeping brings, with one commenting:
“I like looking after the chickens; they make me feel happy. I also say hello and goodbye to them and ask them how they are feeling. They are my little babies.I like collecting the eggs and taking some home to give to my mum and dad. I sometimes like to hold the chickens as they feel soft.”
Many studies have shown that animals, including chickens, have a positive impact on our mental health and overall wellbeing, so we hope to see many more hens being rehomed in care settings such as Gro-Organic.