What We Do, Testimonials & Case Studies
KINDNESS. DIGNITY. RESPECT. HELPING PEOPLE & ANIMALS.
The Hugs Foundation has multiple aims. To not only provide a rescue and rehabilitation centre for horses, ponies and other animals that have been mistreated, abandoned or abused but to also provide well-being support to children, young people, the elderly, military personnel and veterans.
Situated in a unique, nurturing, safe environment, we provide for a range of needs including: social, emotional, physical and mental health support, learning/developmental needs, social isolation, life transitions, reengaging with education, self-harm and those at risk of suicide.
We teach life skills, coping strategies and resilience for lifelong impact through therapeutic learning, animal assisted interventions and ecotherapy. Our services are delivered by a team of professionally qualified, experienced staff.
In addition, we also visit care homes to support mental well-being outside of the farm facilities and help educate on animal welfare.
Please see a list of services we offer below.
Services We Offer:
Animal Assisted Interventions
Mental Well-Being Interventions
Learn New Skills
Building Self-Esteem & Confidence
Back to Education/Work Skills
Arts & Crafts
Help with Mental Ill Health, PTSD, Trauma, Anxiety, Depression, Social Isolation, ASD, Learning Difficulties, Challenging & Negative Behaviours
Practical Skills Including Woodwork
Care Home / Community Events / School Animal Welfare Education & Mental Well-Being Visits
Equine Facilitated Learning
Hugs in the Community
Rosie’s Story (name changed to protect our service users identity)
Rosie’s story began with a difficult and challenging relationship between herself and her parents, which lead to incidents of abuse in her childhood. Consequently, Rosie began to spiral into depression and sadly, this led to severe self-harming. Rosie hit crisis, attempted suicide several times and spent six months in a secure psychiatric unit.
Rosie started sessions at Hugs at the beginning of 2019, initially focusing on building her confidence and self-esteem. She developed a special bond with a rescue horse who was also on her journey to recovery after being beaten with a hammer. The two seemed to have a mutual understanding of the trauma they had faced and began healing together. With the help of the team and rescue horses at Hugs, Rosie was able to develop her life skills and became more independent, even independently seeking voluntary work. Her tendency to self-harm diminished, along with her suicidal thoughts. She became less isolated and began to build a bond with her family and make friends. In September 2019, she enrolled on a full-time Health and Social Care course to pursue her chosen career as a Social Worker, with the end goal being to help children and young people struggling with similar experiences to her own. The rescue horse also grew in confidence and found her forever home.
Rosie designed some of the artwork for Hug’s Hub wall for other service users to enjoy and created resources and crafts around the farm and for open days. Hugs are incredibly proud to have helped create this positive change and turnaround in Rosie’s life, with animals and humans helping each other on their journey to recovery.
James’s Story (name changed to protect our service users identity)
After years of struggling with chronic anxiety, being unable to attend mainstream school and being failed by traditional strategies, James found Hugs. James has complex emotional difficulties. He is probably autistic, although is still awaiting a diagnosis. He struggles with social interactions and everyday activities and, following failed interventions by various agencies, he has serious trust issues with people, especially adults. He is also exploring his gender. He discovered a love of horses several years ago whilst on holiday on Exmoor. Shortly afterwards James deteriorated and entered a period where he was unable to leave the house, becoming isolated and fearful. In a bid to coax him out, he began having riding lessons, which he continues to do. Being around the horses is beneficial for him, but he still struggles with the busy environment of the stables and the expectations of formal lessons. He doesn’t always feel able to attend. He is still unable to attend school. Hugs is different. His mum has noted that she can see positive changes in him following every session.
James struggles with communication and they generally travel to the sessions in silence, as he prefers this. When he comes out from his sessions he is always beaming. He’ll get into the car and after a few moments he’ll begin to tell his mum what he’s been doing, what antics the animals have been up to (he loves Piglet as well as the horses), and what he’s looking forward to next time. His mum struggles to get a word in edgeways! He is also beginning to open up about other things at home which is a huge leap forward for him.
His mum has commented “The sessions at Hugs are run by amazing staff who genuinely put the children at the heart of everything they do. There is no hidden agenda and no pressure on James. He is treated with respect and included in all decision making, allowing him to feel in control of the sessions. He trusts Hazel and Nicki and they are restoring his trust in adults. He is turning a corner, and even making tentative steps towards a return to school. Sadly, his initial sessions have come to an end, but he cannot wait to return later in the year. Thank you Hugs. Having tried every other avenue over the last four years, you were my last hope and you haven’t disappointed. We still have a long road to travel, but I can finally see my son making progress.”
Amber – What I’ve gained from Hugs sessions (name changed to protect our service users identity)
Over the 6 weeks I attended Hugs, I have given a horse a bath, I led goats, helped desensitised two of their newest horses, held guinea pigs, groomed some horses, plaited horses and learnt some more stuff about horses I didn’t know before. Overall I enjoyed myself at Hugs over the 6 weeks and I would like to attend another session with Hugs as everyone was really lovely to be around. All the animals made me smile all the time and I would recommend going to Hugs to anyone. From Amber xx
From Amber’s parent
Dear Hazel and all at Hugs,
Thank you so much for the well-being sessions that my daughter attended from 28/07/21-01/09/21 they were extremely beneficial, helpful and stimulating. Amber has been struggling with her mental health over the last two years which unfortunately has resulted in Amber feeling very anxious and self-harming. When we looked for support from CAMHS they suggested we contact The Hugs Foundation as you offered well-being sessions. As Amber has a passion for horses and would like to work in the equine industry we thought this was a really good idea.
Going to Hugs over the summer holidays has given Amber a real purpose. It has given her something to focus on and lots to think about she has made new friends, met some lovely people, horses and animals. Amber has been able to have closure on a really bad experience she has had in the past as she was able to have contact with some rescued horses that she already knew and thought she would never see again. Amber has learnt some new skills and it has helped Amber feel less anxious, gain a little bit of independence and feel happy about herself. Thanks again for your support.
Dr Helen Reynolds Senior Clinical Psychologist, on behalf of East Cornwall CAMHS
Myself and several of my colleagues have had the pleasure of working alongside The Hugs Foundation in our work with some of the young people that we see in CAMHS. These opportunities have been invaluable. Our young people have learnt new skills, had the opportunity to try out new activities within a nurturing, scaffolded environment, and been able to forge new relationships from which they can push their own barriers and grow. The program has been brilliantly flexible, allowing each young person to start from a position in which they feel comfortable (e.g. creating artwork opportunities), through which they then feel confident enough to try new tasks that they were initially too hesitant to try (e.g. grooming).
In addition to the on-site work, incredible liaison from staff (e.g. through Care Planning Review meetings, Team around the Child meetings and Child Protection Conferences) has meant that these positive developments can then be reflected on and built on in the clinic setting, enabling our therapeutic work to strengthen and develop more intensely. The openness to working with all mental health presentations and flexibility in reducing barriers to accessing services (e.g. working alongside young people with high risk behaviours) has been exceptionally helpful. Thank you for an invaluable program. We have very much valued your involvement with our young people and would be keen for you to support as many more as possible. Our young people have very much echoed the benefit that they have gained from participating at Hugs and always look forward to their next session.