Tell me more about Ewe Talk as an organisation
Emma: “We are offering people a moment in time, the current mental health crisis is at an epidemic level and the ability to support everyone just isn’t there, so many cannot access help. We feel that due to how the world is currently there should be a focus on day to day wellbeing and helping those who are struggling the most following the knock on effect of COVID-19.
We are the only mobile sheep companionship service. We visit individuals as well as work with charities, schools and businesses with their wellbeing services by allowing them to interact with our sheep. People can sit and just be if that is what they need or they are welcome to interact with the sheep by stroking the sheep, grooming them, brushing them or they have the option to go for a walk with them. There is so much research around animal assisted therapy but there is not enough around sheep and animal assisted therapy and we would love to change this.”
How does interacting with the sheep help people?
Emma: “People can learn so many transferable skills whilst interacting with the sheep. For example, some may be in social isolation so our services offer up conversations and experiences in a safe environment. By walking with the sheep this furthers the social interactions especially within the community as people in the neighbouring villages will stop to converse about the sheep.
We work with young people and those with SEN requirements, cognitive development needs and so many more. We find introducing the sheep into a conversation opens up a non confrontational dialogue and helps those who may have verbal difficulties to open up and calm them.”
Pippa: “Sheep are so often looked upon as a food source, however there are studies that show sheep have the same cognitive abilities as many other animals that are often used in animal assisted therapy. Sheep have been known to gauge how a person is feeling and can sense if someone is struggling. We have seen it first hand sheep approaching those who are struggling with their environment and sit with them.
Sheep are also low risk on allergies and injuries meaning that we can help more people. They are also a lot smaller than say Alpacas so are much more easily transported and are much less imposing on people. People don’t get the opportunity to be up close and personal with livestock and we are offering that.”
Emma; “I have a particular interest in helping those recovering from addiction and homelessness. These people have lost so much but the help for them is so underfunded they may struggle to find the help they need. These people may have spent years being judged, we want to break down these barriers and offer comfort in a non judgemental and safe environment. If we can give one person that sense of hope or a memory to remember then that is what matters, each smile is a step in the right direction.”
What was one of your most inspirational moments since starting Ewe Talk?
Emma; “We recently helped a friends daughter. We felt seeing the sheep may help her overcome some of the struggles she has been facing. When she first appeared she was hesitant and withdrawn and didn’t want to interact, however, after about 10 minutes she had opened up. She spoke with us whilst sitting and having a cuddle with the sheep and that what it is all about; offering a moment of relief.”
Pippa: “We also helped a young boy who was struggling and wasn’t in school full time due to issues with routine. He absolutely loves his sheep time and wants to tell everyone he sees about them. He gets stuck in with walking, mucking out, feeding and giving the sheep bedtime biscuits. It has helped him to open up and have a conversation about something non confrontational and something he has grown to be passionate about.”
What can people do to support you?
Emma; “We are not officially up and running as of yet but when we are please do book! We are on social media and we have been getting really positive feedback before we even have pepper bookings. Caroline at Turning Point has been one of our biggest supporters and we can’t thank her enough. Please do share our handles, like and interact with us on Facebook, Tiktok and Youtube, just engage with us as much as possible.”
When will you be taking bookings?
Pippa; “We are hoping to begin taking bookings at the end of March we just need to finalise everything. We are aiming to be fully functional by September. We currently have two working pairs but are hoping to get a baby in February which will be even more affectionate than the ones we have now.
Ewe Talk is an amazing charity that are aiming to do so much for those struggling with mental health. If you would like to know more about the cognitive ability of sheep you can read the article by Psychology Today or Reach Local’s own article around who Ewe Talk Are.
Little update since the interview took place
Since the interview in early February, Emma and Pippa have now welcomed two new adorable additions to the Ewe Talk team. Please meet Nelly and Ziggy.
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