Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lottery Funding Goes to the Birds

The HenPower project in Tyneside has been awarded a £1 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund's Silver Dreams Fund.

The unique project is designed to enrich the life of older people living in a care environment by encouraging 'henshioners' to help look after chickens and take part in hen-related activities.

HenPower has been running since 2012 and project founders, Equal Arts, plan to use the lottery funds to help spread the project across the North East.

Although it may sound like a bird-brained project, many henshioners admit they have grown rather fond of hens.

Wood Green Housing Scheme resident, Alan Richards, 78, claims the scheme has given him a new lease of life.

"At first, I was dead against the project," the happy henshioner said. "But then I came along to the meeting and didn't realize there were so many breeds of hen. I just came more interested on it and started reading up on it all."

Richards admitted he never expected he would be spending his retirement going to chicken auctions or sitting in a chair blow-drying their feathers, but he said the project has been a lifeline for him. As an added bonus he now has access to better eggs than he can buy in the shops.

Director of the Equal Arts charity, Douglas Hunter, was very pleased when he discovered their application for lottery funding had been successful.

"We get so many inquiries about the work we are doing from all across the UK and even internationally; with this much needed funding we can start taking action." Hunter said.

The Big Lottery distributes 40% of the funds the UK National Lottery set aside for good causes. Their Silver Dreams Fund invested some of that money in projects that benefit older people.