The Henry Hallam Therapy Centre
In November 2006, PACT was awarded a £50,000 grant from the “Big Lottery Fund” to convert an old barnyard with buildings suitable to be updated to accommodate friendly animals, thus affording a quiet, contained place where people with physical, mental and emotional stress problems can associate and interact with the animals without being exposed to the other volunteers etc.,.
The Centre opened in May 2008 and includes a cuddle/study room and disabled toilet facilities. It has attracted a considerable amount of interest, as it is the first of its kind in the country.
The Henry Hallam Therapy Centre is a place where people with different needs can be close to the animals but away from the general bustle of the Sanctuary and relax in peace and quiet.
Here at PACT we work with lots of different complex needs schools in east Anglia. Who visit PACT on a weekly basis. We are able to offer the centre as an opportunity for people to come and work at PACT in an environment they can feel safe in. We have over 20 people per week come and use the therapy centre. Since the founding of PACT animal sanctuary, we have always worked with a variety of volunteers who want to work with animals and develop their skills and simply get great enjoyment from spending time with rescue animals. We are proud of this work and hope to continue the development of this area so we can provide an animal therapy centre to assist in learning and support in our local community.
There are many proven studies that show the benefits of animal interaction. Some of the benefits of animal therapy include reduced blood pressure, depression, increased focus and attention, increased self-esteem and attention, improved fine motor skills, improved social skills, reduced anxiety and can also help with grief, increased trust, empathy and teamwork, and many more. We have seen significant improvement in some of our volunteers who come and work in the therapy centre, the schools have also reported how pleased they are with the connections some of the students have made with the animals and improvement in their social and fine motor skills.
We offer sensory stimulation in our cuddle room and therapy room. The supervised interaction offers stimulating textures, smells, and sounds, enhances motor development, creating a group environment to further social skills. After spending quality time relaxing with animals, visitors may see benefits such as: lower blood pressure, reduced stress levels, a release of endorphins elevating mood and energy.
What the centre consists of;
Therapy room We have the dedicated therapy room where we work regularly with small groups of people with complex needs to provide an enriching environment where we are able to have small mammals for people to groom and work with. This is a large bright room which has a large window with a view into the cockatiel aviary which can be stimulating to people with sight problems and provides a bird’s eye view into the life of the cockatiels. It provides a stimulus to some of our volunteers which has benefits to confidence development. We can hold talks in this room and during the summer months is our open day café.
Cat Cuddle Room is a cosy room for our cats and volunteers to use to just sit down relax and enjoy the company of some of our farm cats. Many of our volunteers find this a relaxing space and enjoy spending time bonding with cats and having a cuddle.
Rodent Room This is where we house all our rescue rodents. Many of our volunteers that use the therapy centre enjoy feeding and cleaning the rodents as it is a quiet enclosed space.
The Stables We have two stables in the centre that normally house some of our farm animals that need extra care, this could be sheep, goats, or the occasional farm bird. This provides an opportunity for helpers to muck out and clean and feed the resident animals.
The kennels We have two kennels is home to two of our rescue dogs, these dogs can be walked, groomed, and be cleaned by volunteers.
The Bird Aviaries. We have two large bird aviaries which house our exotic birds these included cockatiels and budgies. People can work in these aviaries and experience the birds flying around them. They can also help clean and feed them. It provides a unique opportunity for people to have a hands-on experience with the birds.
We have created a sanctuary within a sanctuary, which provides an area that is stress free, calm and peaceful for people to enjoy. We feel that working with animals has a great benefit on mental health and wellbeing. Volunteering on a regular basis helps combats loneliness and gives you the opportunity to meet new people and build friendships and helps develop a support system which can help you overcome depression. It can help provide direction and meaning to people’s lives and provide a sense of purpose. Even helping with the smallest of tasks, can be a great achievement for some people, which gives them that feeling of worth that builds their self-esteem.
At PACT we work with many local schools. We regularly partake in school assemblies and talks. We have found that this is an effective way of educating young people about kindness towards animals and importance of good animal welfare. These talks include information on pet care, wildlife information and awareness. We also have school guided visits at PACT where we take small of groups of children and teachers around the sanctuary and educate them on the different animals and their needs. This has proven extremely popular and we are hoping to get more local schools involved in PACT and work together to promote animal welfare. If you are a teacher in Norfolk or Suffolk, would like to find out more, please contact Mrs Sophie Keeney on 01362 820775.
PACT also provides onsite learning-based opportunities. We have over 100 students that come through our gates every year. Some are only for a few days and some come for up to two years for college/university-based placements. PACT is the largest all animal rescue centre in East Anglia, providing an amazing environment for students to work with a large variety of breeds and wildlife species, giving them the opportunity to gain invaluable experience. We also work with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Where we able to offer up to 8 placements a week for students completing this award including Bronze, Silver and Gold. Working at PACT helps the students develop essential skills for life and work. Duke of Edinburgh is a recognised mark of achievement which is recognised by employers.
If you would like to give a regular donation to the sanctuary please click here.