“A safe place for everyone”: Nonprofit organization uses sheep as a unique approach to support mental health

Excellent animals for providing emotional support

Emma Redman, 37, and Pippa Ashton, 46, established EWE Talk last year, a nonprofit organization located in Thame, Oxfordshire, England. Their aim is to assist individuals, both adults and children, who are facing challenges in their lives.

According to Redman, they offer home visits to help those experiencing loneliness and isolation. What began with just one sheep has now grown into a flock of seven sheep and two goats, forming the heart of their endeavor to aid those in need.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the psychological and physiological benefits of animal therapy. Redman expressed, “We have always recognized the value of animals in supporting individuals dealing with diverse issues and mental health concerns.”

Contrary to the more commonly known horse and dog therapy, EWE Talk provides a safe space where children can freely engage with the animals. Whether it’s talking, playing, giggling, laughing, or simply running around with the sheep, the focus is on fostering a positive environment.

Redman emphasized their dedication to helping anyone who requires their assistance, stating, “We firmly believe that what we do can make a difference.” Their venture began when Redman had the opportunity to purchase a unique breed of sheep called Valais Blacknose, known for their dog-like temperament and suitability for emotional support.

Recognizing the potential for a distinctive animal therapy initiative, the pair decided to launch EWE Talk. While their long-term goal is to visit schools and educational settings with their fluffy companions, they currently welcome children struggling with mental health to their farm. In certain cases, they have even transported their flock to individuals in need of emotional support.

To expand their operation, Redman expressed the need for additional funding. Being a mobile service sets them apart, as they can load two animals into a vehicle and travel anywhere within the county to reach people’s homes and provide support for loneliness and isolation.

Redman clarified that they are not an alternative education provider; rather, their focus is on well-being and emotional support for children with neurodiversity and mental health challenges. Through running pilots and offering free services, they have witnessed firsthand the positive impact of their work. Redman shared a heartwarming story of a young girl who initially resisted engagement but eventually found comfort and joy in the stable, leading to regular visits and progress.

Witnessing the positive impact on children fuels their passion to continue making a difference. Redman expressed gratitude for being able to support and connect with those in need, describing the children facing various struggles as superheroes. For EWE Talk, success lies in positively impacting the lives of a few individuals.

Recently, the organization shared an inspiring story on their Facebook page about a home visit they made to a young boy named Joseph. Spending time with the animals enabled him to enjoy the outdoors for an extended period, and EWE Talk expressed their honor in being able to support Joseph and his family. They eagerly anticipate hosting him at their farm in the near future.

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