Hen party project launched in St John’s Wood to help lonely older people

Hens will be used to combat loneliness

Hens will be used to combat loneliness - Credit: Archant

An egg-straordinary initiative where hens will be used to tackle loneliness among older residents in care homes will be launched in St John’s Wood today (Thursday).

Forget about a parrot, a hen is a better companion

Forget about a parrot, a hen is a better companion - Credit: Archant

Residents at Penfold Street Care Home in Penfold Street, will be joined by dozens of hens and charity Equal Arts for the London roll-out of their quirky HenPower scheme.

The clucking mad project has already put smiles on hundreds of faces as HenPower unites elderly people with feathered friends for therapeutic and creative play sessions in an effort to tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve wellbeing.

Among those taking part in the London project is 80-year-old Ruth Xavier.

She said: “I used to keep hens when I was younger and had to prepare their breakfast each morning before I went to school.

“I like the project a lot. I am down there in my wheelchair in the morning letting the hens out and there last thing at night to see they’ve gone to bed.

“It’s good to have a different focus. People have been bringing their children in to see the hens and residents come and sit outside to watch them. I’m enjoying the creative activities; it is something different to do.”

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Known as “Hensioners,” older people taking part in the scheme have the opportunity to become active volunteers in the community as they take their own “hen pals” out on the road to meet people of all ages at schools and other care centres.

Wendy Wilson, extra care manager at the home, said: “Residents have really embraced the idea of HenPower and the creative sessions.

“It gives us the opportunity for stimulating activities to engage people using our dementia unit, day service users and tenants. We are looking forward to the benefits and the fun the project can bring to those involved.”

The £1million scheme, which will also be rolled out in care homes in Notting Hill, has won the backing of Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

He said: “HenPower is an innovative way to help tackle loneliness and enhance the lives of older Londoners. The capital’s older population is growing and it’s great that Londoners will now have the opportunity to take part in this valuable scheme.”