Hens improve health at Leyburn extra care scheme

Members of the Kirkwood HenFriends Association with two of the chickens at Kirkwood Extra Care Scheme in Leyburn.

People living at Kirkwood Hall extra care scheme are ‘egg-static” about a new initiative designed to promote health and wellbeing and social inclusion

The newest residents at the Broadacres-owned scheme in Leyburn are not humans, but five chickens called Hetty, Bella, Trixie, Marge and Gillian.

The chickens have been introduced to encourage social interaction among residents, but also to get the wider community involved.

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A group, known as the Kirkwood HenFriends Association, has been set up to raise funds for chicken-related activities and establish links with local people, schools and groups.

Chairwoman Karin Sedgwick said: “This initiative is more than just about petting the chickens, although interaction with animals is proven to be very therapeutic for older people.

“The residents involved in the project, which is open to anyone, have also taken responsibility for feeding the chickens, cleaning the chicken house and generally ensuring they are fit and healthy.

“We have a group called ChickenChat which meets every Monday and this is an opportunity to chat about the hens, but also to plan other activities.”

One of the residents involved is Michael Terry, age 67, who said: “It’s really enjoyable looking after the chickens and especially collecting the eggs they lay.

“They each produce one egg a day and we then put them in the communal area and invite residents and visitors to take them an leave a donation. They go very quickly!”

The chicken project was made possible thanks to a donation of £300 from Broadacres and £900 from Stronger Communities.

Karin added: “We are now planning to buy an incubator so the local school can see chicks hatch, then we will add a few more chickens to the ones we already have a Kirkwood”

On 27th November, The Kirkwood Hens Friends Association will be holding a coffee morning at Kirkwood Hall, from 10am.

Kirkwood Hall Manager Michelle Mottershead said: “We are about to celebrate the first anniversary of Kirkwood Hall and its pleasing that residents and the wider community are getting involved in so many activities.”