Young people muck in at local riding centre

06 July 2016

A local occupational therapist is supporting young people to develop their interest in equine care with positive results for their health and wellbeing.

A group of young people from Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (CWP) Pine Lodge have been learning about caring for horses, and the practical skills this requires, as well as developing their confidence and self-esteem. Pine Lodge provides specialist mental health care for young people.

The sessions, held at Wirral Riding Centre and made possible by CWP Charity funding, were planned and set up by Aeron Gates, specialist occupational therapist. She says, “The Equine Care group was set up in response to what young people at Pine Lodge said they would like to do.”

“The therapeutic use of horses is a well-documented intervention that promotes good physical, emotional and mental well-being. The structured programme supports people to become increasingly independent, confident and develop practical skills they can use in further education or employment.”

“The group also provides an invaluable opportunity to access opportunities in the local community, as well as gain volunteering experience and promote the opportunities available following education.”

“Occupational Therapy enables people to achieve health, wellbeing and life satisfaction through participation in meaningful occupation.”

Mel McGoldrick from Wirral Riding Centre in Neston, says, “It has always been a dream of mine to set up a therapeutic side to the equine industry as it is not something that you come across a lot and it really works.

“The difference that we have seen in those young people who have taken part has been amazing to see and every single one of them has blossomed while taking part in the course. It has really been a privilege to lead the course with Aeron and I hope it will encourage them to get out there and achieve anything they want to do!”

Those who have taken part in the course have reported many benefits from the course, including: “I feel more confident and find it easier to talk to people”, “I am now volunteering regularly and looking into working with horses in the future”, “I can now ride, tack up, and groom a horse!”. “This experience has been amazing, you learn and gain so much from it, and it could really help you when you are trying to find a job if you have had work experience”.

Two of those involved have gone on to volunteer on a weekly basis with their local riding school, and another young person who felt unable to participate in mainstream education is now also considering her Level One apprenticeship on a yard.

Pine Lodge will be relocating to the purpose built Ancora House, on the Countess of Chester Health Park, in late summer. The £14million centre will provide inpatient and day patient care for children and young people with severe and/or complex mental health conditions, also known as Tier 4 services.

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