It’s well known that animals can be incredibly therapeutic, helping to improve the social, emotional and general wellbeing of people who need motivation and enabling to live a full and happy life.
Tony is a vulnerable adult with learning difficulties who grew up with a pigeon-mad dad. As a youngster in the North East he helped his dad with his own pigeon loft, learning how to care for them. When the time came for Tony to move to his own home he was worried that he wouldn’t be allowed to continue enjoying his passion for pigeons.
Social care provider, ubu, came to the rescue when they helped Tony find a flat where he could live with greater independence and set up his own pigeon loft in his garden so he could pursue his ambition to breed a racing champion.
“I loved helping my dad and as I grew older, I yearned to have some pigeons of my own, but not everyone understands or trusts you to be capable. ubu and their enabling staff have been really supportive. They helped me to get started with a few pigeons and my own loft,” he told us.
“I needed to find a loft big enough for my birds but not too big for my home. We worked together to find the right pigeons and then it was up to me to go about caring for them in the best way I could and as I wanted to.
“It’s a bit like riding a bike. You never forget. Having a small amount of support makes sure I can get everything into balance everything again. Pigeons are a big responsibility – like people really. They need feeding and cleaning daily and I love talking to them to make sure they know they are well loved.”
Tony’s careful planning and expertise did pay off because after a few short months he went to the loft one morning to find his efforts had been rewarded. His pigeon pair had mated and the hen was sitting broodily on a chick’s shell. Tony’s confidence and enthusiasm has grown since he moved into his own home. Being able to pursue and take responsibility for his passion has helped him to develop life skills and self-esteem in many other aspects of his new and independent life.
“I felt confident I was doing the right things but you are never 100% certain. Caring for this pair and being rewarded with a chick has really spurred me on, now I want to breed a winning pigeon,” he added.
Dorothy Jarvis-Lee, Chief Executive Officer of ubu said: “It has been a well-known (and scientifically proven) that interaction with a gentle, friendly pet has significant benefits. We have seen how animal-assisted therapy significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems. We are so privileged to include them in our work.”