Kingsley steps in to support animal therapy business through the coronavirus lockdown
It’s a social enterprise that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic but its main workforce cannot be furloughed – because they are donkeys. Mini Donkeys for Wellbeing, launched by Sarah McPherson from her home in Hempnall, south of Norwich, in 2017, provides popular animal therapy sessions for care homes but all visits have had to stop during the coronavirus lockdown.
Now Kingsley Healthcare, a national care home provider, has stepped in to help by sponsoring all seven donkeys for a year and funding donkey-themed activity packs which will be given out to care home residents once visits resume. Kingsley’s regional operations director, Georgina Johnston, who handed over a cheque for £445, said:
“The donkeys have visited many of our homes across East Anglia and it’s amazing how they never fail to put a smile on the faces of residents and staff. “The business has lost its income for the moment and we were delighted to help in a small way.”
Ms. McPherson was supporting her mother Patricia Little through the later stages of dementia when she discovered that donkeys were one thing that really brought a smile back to her face. She found that the donkeys she kept at her home had a magical effect better than any medicine. “The calm nature of the donkeys made her calm and it made her smile which was something that had become quite rare,” she said.
Following her mother’s death, she resolved to let others enjoy the therapeutic benefits of her donkeys and set up her social enterprise. With the help of about 30 volunteers, she takes them to care homes across the region. She said: “It is tremendous to see how the donkeys spark so many memories for people living with dementia.
“It brings back memories of donkey rides as children and, in Norfolk and Suffolk, many people come from a farming background and may have had a donkey.”
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