Animal therapy for Dementia sufferers will be given a boost thanks to £50k cash injection at Heeley City Farm.
The funding from the People’s Project award, will be used to enable people with dementia and their families to visit the farm regularly.
The manager of the Dementia Department, Lee Pearse, 45, said: “I have a massive passion and drive for this project.”
Mr Pearse set up the dementia department in 2015 as an ex-carer for his mum, Valerie Pearse, who suffered from Frontotemporal dementia. The project runs gardening activities and animal assisted therapy sessions, which has huge benefits for those living with dementia and their relatives, as interaction with animals can have a calming effect.
“People with dementia can come and engage in a wide range of activities and simply be outside,” said Mr Pearse.
The Farming Comes to You initiative, where animals go into care homes to interact with the patients, will become more frequent.
Mr Pearse hopes visits to care homes will become weekly and he wants more people visiting the farm over the next year. The £49,800 will go towards transport to make it easier for people to visit the farm or for animals to go the care homes.
He said: “The farm can become a second home.”
The Dementia garden will be improved, named after Valerie, and the farm will be made more accessible. They will also be able to employ part time staff to make support more frequent.
A Frontotemporal carers group is also run every second Tuesday of the month, which is the only one in South Yorkshire. It brings dementia cares together for an informal chat about experiences.
Mr Pearse is a national dementia champion for Alzheimer’s Research UK and set up his own charity, The Valerie Foundation. The department works closely with many charities including Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Heeley City Farm was set up 37 years ago and welcomes everyone.