HugglePets in the Community are proud to announce that our project #hugyourcommunity has been awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund for 3 years!

HugglePets in the Community (HugglePetsCIC) is today celebrating after being awarded National Lottery funding to support its work with children and adults living with disabilities and/or struggling with their mental health. The community interest company based in Wolverhampton will use the funding to run more sessions in animal assisted interventions and therapies to help make a positive impact on peoples mental wellbeing.

The aims of the #hugyourcommunity project are threefold:

  • Improved outcomes for children with multiple and complex needs.
  • Improved mental health and well-being for children and adults.
  • Improved engagement amongst people experiencing loneliness.

HugglePetsCIC has been running since 2018 and was set up following feedback from the community about how the animals on the HugglePets site were supporting children who were autistic and adults struggling with their mental health and loneliness. They have recently won a Signature Award for ‘Community Excellence’ for their work in 2019 in supporting children with autism via their new Community Aquarium and Sensory Activity Centre.

HugglePetsCIC will now be able to run more animal assisted intervention and therapy sessions for children and adults in the community, for three years, with a target to reach 9000 people in the Black Country. The sessions help people to identify and build healthy relationships, gain support with bereavement, gain understanding on emotional and social behaviours and learn new skills and of course feel safe to share their feelings while interacting with animals. This method is used by HugglePetsCIC to break down barriers to accessing therapies to support mental health.

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will see these animal assisted therapies and sessions expanded to benefit organisations such as the local authorities, non-for-profits and public sector organisations such as schools. This means that the number of adults and children able to access this support will grow in the region, with shorter waiting times to access support for their mental health and/or SEN need.

At the same time, HugglePetsCIC will be able to help tackle loneliness in the city by bringing people together. This will help them to build relationships with others experiencing the same challenges and hopefully enable them to develop their own support network.

Activities delivered by HugglePetsCIC will include:

  • Tea with a Twist, these are tea and coffee mornings with animals to reduce isolation in the city
  • Animal Assisted Activities and Interventions for children and young people to support their mental health and wellbeing, this includes those with a special education need or disability.
  • Animal Assisted Therapy for adults to help support their mental health such as managing stress, trauma, self-care, suicide awareness and prevention and many more topics affecting todays society.

Hannah Dixon, Community Projects Manager, says: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, we will be able to press on with our plans to broaden the range of opportunities available to people in the community and especially children with disabilities. This is important because it helps the children and adults to build healthy relationships with others facing similar challenges and to create their own supportive circles of friends and peers.”

If you would like to engage in our programmes, would like to work with us or know someone who would benefit from our work please contact us at - [email protected]