Animal-magic! This is how I would sum up my experience doing this memorable photo shoot!
Today the staff and residents of a residential home in Clacton-on-Sea were expecting some very special visitors. The Wellieson team from Colchester were bringing some of their four-legged animals from their farm. As I stood waiting patiently in the lounge area, in trotted two pygmy goats and wandered around inquisitively to a chorus of ooohs and ahhs from the residents. The Wellieson team were quick to pick up the goats and offer them to the residents to pet and cuddle. There was an opportunity here for two of the residents to bottle feed the goats.
The positive effects were evident to see, from the most able-bodied to the frailest or most withdrawn resident.
One dementia resident had a pygmy goat sat on her lap. She was gently singing to the goat and stroking it for at least 15 minutes. The goat looked completely mesmerised and relaxed. It’s not often I see a baby goat sit still for more than a few seconds!
It is evident that animal interaction helps people to relax, reduces stress and emphasises the importance and benefits of being tactile with a pet can bring.
Research shows that stroking and playing with, feeding and looking after animals is good for the health and can reduce stress and blood pressure levels.
Helping residents to reminisce and recall happy memories from the past is a good reason to have pets/animals in the care home environment. It was clear to see how much joy the animals brought to the residents and how much they are needed and valued in the care home industry. I felt privileged to be part of this scene and to capture such magical moments through the lens.
Do visit Wellieson website to learn more about their ‘flat-pack-farm-visits’.
A lovely gem of a farm! Wellgate Farm is full of community spirit and young volunteers! It’s easy to miss as it’s set back off the main road and accessed through an alley way. Look out for the A board sign outside! Well worth a visit for families and little ones!
As I mingle with the 140 or so goats I feel, not for the first time, like a trespasser. I have entered a whole new world of peace, tranquility and the home of these adorable caprine creatures! But of course I know deep down that my presence is welcomed by the hundreds of residents here! Buttercups Goat Sanctuary provides a loving and caring environment for abused, neglected and abandoned goats. It is a safe and loving home for the rest of their lives.
So why do I like it here so much? There is a feeling of contentment, not just from the goats but also from the staff, volunteers and visitors! Similar to other pets, goats tend to cheer us up when we’re feeling down and draw us out when we feel withdrawn.
As a photographer, I spend a lot of time observing and studying animal behaviour and the interaction between animals and humans. On my recent visit here I noticed a special bond between Nip, one of the large goats, and a volunteer, Kirsty, who I later learned was Nip’s guardian. I captured some lovely images of the two of them and these can be seen in my ‘People’ gallery.