The pioneering £1m HenPower project is launching with the backing of London Mayor Boris Johnson after being successfully used in North East.
Set up by creative ageing charity Equal Arts, HenPower will use hen-keeping to tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve people’s wellbeing.
Its work has also seen benefits in dementia care settings with staff reporting a reduction in the use of anti-psychotic medication.
Notting Hill Housing will now run the award-winning project with residents at two of its care homes.
Mr Johnson said: “HenPower is an innovative way to help tackle loneliness and enhance the lives of older Londoners. The capital’s older population is growing and it’s great that Londoners will now have the opportunity to take part in this valuable scheme.”
Lynn Lewis, director of Notting Hill Pathways, said: “We are delighted to be taking part in HenPower and proud to be the first extra care schemes in London working with Equal Arts on the project. It will really help connect our residents through a shared interest and creative activities.
“To be able to launch HenPower at two schemes and celebrate the work of our residents at Elmgrove and Penfold Street makes the launch extra special.”
Using hen-keeping as a catalyst, those living at the venues will take part in artist-led creative activities and form partnerships with schools and their communities.
Created by Equal Arts in the North East, the charity was awarded Big Lottery funding to roll HenPower out across the UK. It currently supports more than 700 residents in over 20 North East care homes.
Equal Arts director Douglas Hunter said he is excited to see the initiative rilled out: “To see HenPower taking off in Notting Hill Housing venues is testament to the difference this simple idea can have on people’s wellbeing, no matter where they are in the country.
“It gives people a role and responsibility and residents can be involved as much as they wish. HenPower moves away from passive care you so often see in care settings and harnesses people’s imagination and interests to empower themselves.”
Those taking part in the project are known as 'hensioners', and include 80-year-old Ruth Xavier. She said: “I used to keep hens when I was younger and had to prepare their breakfast each morning before I went to school.
“I like the project a lot. I am down there in my wheelchair in the morning letting the hens out and there last thing at night to see they’ve gone to bed.
“It’s good to have a different focus, people have been bringing their children in to see the hens and residents come and sit outside to watch them. I’m enjoying the creative activities, it is something different to do.”
Wendy Wilson, extra care manager at 60 Penfold Street, said: “Residents have really embraced the idea of HenPower and the creative sessions.
“It gives us the opportunity for stimulating activities to engage people using our dementia unit, day service users and tenants. We are looking forward to the benefits and fun the project can bring to those involved.”
For more information about HenPower email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.equalarts.org.uk or call 0191 477 5775.