Teams at Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB) have linked 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 to animals.
Callum Moore, Psychological Therapist and Registered Mental Health Nurse and Pete Beckett, Intensive Outreach Recovery Co-ordinator, work at our Trust and 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 for a dog training and care course called “Paws for Change”, which became a life-changing experience for the young person involved.
Callum said: "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.”
The programme helped the group understand animal sentience and behaviour and the concepts of feeling safe for both humans and animals as well as practical activities and other learning.
The RSPCA Birmingham has highlighted the success of the project after seeing the impact it has had on the young people taking part and how it has helped improve their mental wellbeing.
Harry Goodall, 17, from Birmingham, took part in the programme.
“This course was such an enjoyable experience and gave me something positive to do when I was in a low place,” he said.
“It helped to increase my confidence in talking to new people and gave me a chance to have my voice heard.”
Mollie Swadkins, 19, from Frankley, Birmingham, also took part in the programme after attending Paws for Change. She said: “This course has helped me so much with my confidence and wellbeing. Before this program, I couldn’t leave the house, but this course pushed me to leave the front door and get past my fear of going outside.
“Being on the course, I met a lot of new people and it really helped with my anxiety. I used to find it hard making friends but being in a group of supportive individuals where everyone was treated equally no matter their background really helped to build up my confidence.”
Mollie continues to volunteer with the RSPCA with the dream of one day becoming an Inspector.
“I can’t recommend this course enough,” she added. “If you are a person that struggles, it could help and benefit you so much.”
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 Callum Moore on 0121 333 6405.