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Cash injection for Cornish animal-based children’s mental health therapy

25th March 2021

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A Bodmin animal rescue centre that offers innovative treatment to children and young people with mental health issues has landed a much-needed funding boost.

The Hugs Foundation ­is celebrating £4,594 in additional support after its fundraising coordinator Laura Dennis spotted a brief mention of our new charitable giving project The Neighbourhood Fund in her home water bill.

And in less than a month, Laura had completed an application to get a slice of the new local support fund ­­– and landed the cash needed to pay for ten youngsters to undergo the charity’s unique animal-based therapy sessions

“We are a small charity with just five members of staff, but we do really big work,” explained Laura. “This part of the southwest is one of the most deprived areas of the country, and we have many children suffering mental issues such as anxiety and depression caused by poverty, violence and social exclusion.

“I discovered The Neighbourhood Fund completely by chance and got on it quickly. The application process was so easy, and it was brilliant to hear back that we had been successful. Often, grant applications are very time consuming, but this one focused on us and we were kept in the loop, so we knew how our bid had been received.”

The Hugs Foundation began in 2017 purely as an equine rescue charity, but within six months had evolved its offering to take advantage of the special bond many young people have with animals, and especially horses.

Its treatment typically consists of six weekly one-hour sessions, with young people slowly building relationships with animals. They take part in a variety of caring and team-building activities, nature walks, and create scrapbooks of their experiences.

“The kids often come to us finding it very difficult to talk about their problems so will be much more comfortable initially being quiet alongside the animals. They enjoy being here, in what is really a small farmyard environment, and find it much easier to open up.

“We’ve found a real need in the community for our type of ‘animal-assisted’ interventions and the pandemic has dramatically increased demand. In our last full year we helped around 170 young people and are now being inundated with referrals.

“The uniqueness of the project is that we have rescue animals – they and the children seem to understand each other; they are on a healing journey together.”

Jo Ecroyd, our Customer Service Director said, “The mental health of young people and children is incredibly important in these current times. We are pleased to be able to show our support for The Hugs Foundation that is doing incredible work in this area with their animal-based therapy sessions.”

We're giving back to the region it works within and cares about by actively improving the lives of people and the places they love for generations to come. The pandemic has emphasised the importance of local communities and South West Water is investing in supporting people across Devon and Cornwall to build back and connect communities. The South West Water Neighbourhood Fund is making a tangible difference to the lives of people living in Devon and Cornwall.

We're making this investment to better the lives of local people through funding projects which protect the nature and the environment for the benefit of community health and well-being; provide new opportunities for people to learn and develop; bring communities together, virtually or physically – when safe to do so; and/or support the upkeep of local neighbourhood centres and facilities to keep communities strong.

For further information please contact:

To find out more about our Neighbourhood Fund, visit southwestwater.co.uk/community/support/neighbourhood-fund.