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Newhaven is a low secure learning disability service at Fieldhead. After listening to service user’s requests, and recognising the benefits of animal interactions on wellbeing, the service decided to purchase pet guinea pigs for the ward.

Due to service user’s love of baking, the service and EyUp! decided to hold a fundraising bake sale at Fieldhead in late 2019, which successfully raised around £280.00.

Using the money raised from the bake sale, the service purchased an initial ‘guinea pig starter pack’ that included the guinea pigs (who were quite quickly named Smokey and Bandit!), a hutch, water bottle, toys, treats, initial bedding and food.

Member of staff holding a guinea pig

Matthew Hartley, associate practitioner shared his thoughts: 

“The occupational therapy team at Newhaven have all been extremely pleased with how well the guinea pigs have been received. Many service users have asked for a ward pet for a long time and were excited to meet them, especially as some were involved with the fundraising to make it happen. “The guinea pigs are helping our ability to engage with service users, particularly those who have difficulty engaging with people, and we are finding that service users are also really enjoying being in the company of the guinea pigs. “The guinea pigs have given service users a sense of responsibility for another being that they can contribute to and care for the wellbeing of. It has also helped them socialise with each other, sharing a common interest in the animals. “During lockdown it has been a nice way for some of them to break away from the usual ward day to day events.”

People in our care at Newhaven said:

“Smokey and Bandit are relaxing to be around, and we look forward to seeing them every day.”

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