Northern Ireland

Hen Power bids to tackle loneliness among the elderly

Hen and woman Image copyright Angelafoto
Image caption Similar schemes are also taking place in Canada and Australia

The number of 'hensioners' in Northern Ireland could soon be on the rise.

A charity wants older people to help care for pet chickens in an attempt to tackle loneliness.

The idea, by the project Hen Power, has experienced significant success with the scheme in England.

What started with a couple of hens in Northumberland has expanded to more than 40 care and residential homes across England and Wales.

Similar schemes are also taking place in Canada and Australia.

Caring through arts is being backed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which is promoting other forms of art among the elderly in care settings including dance, music, creative arts and circus skills.

Image copyright fotojv
Image caption The project recently received £1m of Big Lottery funding

But will bringing chickens into care homes ruffle some feathers?

Not according to 80-year-old widow Pat Cain who is originally from Merseyside.

She lives alone in sheltered accommodation as part of a wider care home and has been a hen-keeper for four years.

"First of all some shook their heads, they didn't care for it at all. But now it's part of our lives, it would be strange if we didn't step out of our bungalows and care for the hens.

"It's made everyone around me change their lives."

The project recently received £1m of Big Lottery funding and Hen Power says it is hatching a plan for the scheme to be introduced in Northern Ireland soon.

Related Topics