EAQ Manor Farm is an outdoor and equine-assisted learning centre set in 12 acres of Somerset countryside. The charity works with a wide range of people, including children, young people and adults who are overcoming isolation, exclusion and social and emotional difficulties. Kerry Roberts from the charity told us how a grant of £1,500 helped them to provide virtual and in-person equine therapy and equine assisted learning to ease the impacts of the lockdown.
“During the initial few weeks of lockdown, we were contacted by several families of our regular learners and were successfully able to trial virtual, remote FaceTime sessions from our Centre for their children.
We found that doing virtual sessions had value in a way that went beyond our expectations. It meant that some of our most vulnerable learners, who had found lockdown challenging, were able to interact with the horses and do close observations of their behaviour. This had a hugely positive impact and all our parents agreed that their children were calmer after the sessions.
In the middle of April, we were able partly re-open for some of our more vulnerable learners with strict hygiene and social distancing practices in place. The funding from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal meant we could subsidise the cost of these sessions for the families and meant we could offer 80 sessions of both virtual and one-to-one support during lockdown.
Before lockdown, we had been working with a young woman who was attending weekly Equine Assisted Learning sessions with us. She has struggled with extreme anxiety for many years, which was heightened with the onset of lockdown and meant she was unable to leave her home. She became unhappy and anxious about members of her family and would not let them leave the house, even for essential supplies.
Funding from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal allowed us to offer her virtual remote sessions where she could access our animals and farm from the safety of her own home. Through a series of regular virtual sessions with us, her anxiety was reduced, and her mum was even able to go out shopping during one of our sessions.
Over time, she became strong enough to attend one-to-one sessions at our Centre. Without the stepping stones of doing the virtual sessions, and the funding we received, we strongly believe that this would not have been possible.”