Support group are using SHEEP to help people improve their mental health

Welcome to the support group using SHEEP to help people improve their mental health. EWE Talk was launched by Emma Redman, 37, and Pippa Ashton, 46, last year. The non-profit organisation aims to help struggling children and adults. The pair started with just one sheep - but now have a flock of seven sheep and two goats to help those that are finding life challenging. Studies have shown that animal therapy can have both psychological and physiological benefits. Emma said: “One of the things we have always known is how useful animals are as a tool to help those struggling with diversities and mental health issues. “Sheep aren’t used as therapy animals – people usually think of horse and dog therapy. “We offer a safe space, if they want to talk to us then they can but maybe they just want to play and giggle and laugh and run around with the sheep. “We want to be there to help anyone that needs us – we've got so much belief that what we can do is make a difference.” Emma and Pippa, from Thame, Oxon., started EWE Talk after Emma was given the opportunity to buy a unique breed of sheep - a Valias Blacknose Valais Blacknose sheep are known for their dog-like temperament - making them the perfect animal to provide emotional support. From there, the pair realised there was a gap in the market for a unique animal therapy venture and decided to give it a go. While their goal is to visit schools and educational settings with the fluffy friends, currently they welcome children struggling with their mental health on to the farm. On some occasions, they've even transported the flock to locals in need of emotional support. Now, they're hoping to secure more funding to expand their operation. Emma said: "We are a mobile service which is unique - we load two animals into a vehicle and can go anywhere within the county. "We can go to people’s houses and help those struggling with loneliness and isolation. "We’re not alternative education provider, our focus is on wellbeing and emotional support for children with neurodiversity and mental health issues. "We’ve run pilots with people offering free services mostly from home. "A young girl came to the farm who had tried all different types of therapies and for first ten minutes she didn’t want to engage. "After that she was in the stable with the sheep being cuddled - over the hour we started to talk and there was laughter and smiles and she's come back weekly since. "Every time we see a child benefit from their time with the animals it gives us that passion to move forwards and make a difference. "We felt honoured that we were able to be there with them and support them and share that with them and they let us in. "All the children going through these things are superheroes, if we can make difference to a few people's lives then it’s a success."