Individuals at Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB), our 0-25s mental health service, have teamed up with the RSPCA to deliver a bespoke animal welfare project.
Co-designed by young people, the six-week animal welfare course helps improve mental health and wellbeing by promoting kindness and compassion for animals.
Callum Moore, Psychological Therapist and Registered Mental Health Nurse and Pete Beckett, Intensive Outreach Recovery Co-ordinator at our Trust were instrumental in establishing the programme and in the ongoing support of the young people who have participated.
"The idea that set the project into motion was born out of a nurse session with one of our young people who had not left the house in over a year," said Callum. "They were asked what they thought would help them start engaging with education and the world again, and they told us something to do with animals. Immediately, we contacted the RSPCA Birmingham education centre.”
The RSPCA signed the young person up to a dog training and care course called “Paws for Change”, which became a life-changing experience for the young person involved.
"Seeing the impact of Paws for Change made us passionate about seeing if there was scope to do more. We shared our thoughts with the RSPCA, who offered a bespoke individual programme for this young person. It was a catalyst that provided the framework for the six-week programme, in which we now run two groups on a rolling basis together throughout the year.”
Robert Moffat, RSPCA Youth Engagement Manager who oversees the project, has highlighted the success of the course after seeing the impact it has had on the young people taking part and how it has helped improve their mental wellbeing.
“It’s brilliant to see how the young people have developed and grown during this project. They have made friends, learnt new skills and massively grown in confidence, some having even gone on to start their own businesses.”
Completion of the programme also offers young people recognition of their achievements through accreditation and a bridge to education and even the opportunity to return to volunteer at the RSPCA.
Callum and Pete were awarded the Research and Innovation prize at the Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust's annual award ceremony, the BWC Spirit Awards, for their dedication in bringing this project to life.
"I was shocked, over the moon and lost for words that we had won the award," added Callum. "I immediately told Pete Beckett and our colleagues at the RSPCA centre, who were all equally excited. The young people on the programme have also congratulated us on the programme's success at the awards, and they hope it will help increase the future scope of the programme."
For more information about the programme, contact Pete Beckett at firstname.lastname@example.org.