The Wildlife Hospital will be located within a substantial site alongside various other community projects. Our aim is that the Wildlife Hospital should be seen as part of, and participating in, the wider local community structure.
We see many of our general facilities being usable by the surrounding community and contributing to the diversity and amenity of the neighbouring area.
We hope that by contributing to, and also drawing on, the local community, the Wildlife Hospital will come to be seen as ‘belonging’ to the community, and people around will take pride in supporting ‘our’ Hospital.
WRI believes that animal welfare and conservation are of limited long term benefit without education. For that reason we feel there has to be a strong educational emphasis in the Hospital.
We will be providing the individuals who work with the animals the option to work towards achieving a certified animal care qualification which could open doors to jobs such as; veterinary nursing, grooming, animal training, wildlife conservation etc.
We also want the visitor facilities to have a strong educational content to try to develop public respect for wildlife and the understanding of the necessity of biodiversity for our own health and that of our planet.
Social Enterprise Partnership
Of particular importance to us, is that we set up the Wildlife Hospital as a Social Enterprise Partnership so that it will be of service to the wider community.
What Is A Social Enterprise Partnership (Sep)?
“A strategic collaboration that helps to satisfy a social need as part of a commercial operation and in so doing maximises the human and business benefits.”
We will be seeking partnerships with organisations that provide for the needs of young people, marginalised groups, and individuals with intellectual and/or mental health disabilities, or organisations involved in the rehabilitation of offenders and/or ex-offenders.
There is evidence that a SEP of this nature can be of particular value in economically deprived areas where resources are constrained and collaborative approaches are critical.
WRI is convinced that social partnership is the key to this project and will be extremely rewarding in terms of mental, emotional, spiritual, therapeutic and holistic wellbeing, for all participating organisations.
Examples Of Sep Projects
In 2010 an innovative and highly successful adult care Social Partnership was set up between an animal care organisation and the local Social Care Trust to provide daytime training opportunities for 70 adults with mild to moderate learning disabilities.
The facility was established on a rural six-acre site. In addition to traditional crafts and horticultural work the facility looks after up to 50 rescued animals (such as dogs and cats, fowl, deer and goats), and these are cared for by the adult learners, under the supervision of trained staff.
It has long been known that the interaction between humans and animals can be very powerful and that the bond between them can have positive impacts on both the humans and animals.
Project Pooch was one of the first programs [in the USA] to bring incarcerated juveniles together with abandoned and abused dogs.
Researcher Sandra Merriam-Aduini studied the difference Project Pooch made on adjudicated, incarcerated, violent male juveniles in terms of recidivism, reformation, and behavioural changes resulting from human-animal interactions and the need for responsibility, patience, and compassion for all living things.
A History of Prison Inmate–Animal Interaction Programs (Strimple 2003).
“The [research] findings indicated that there was zero recidivism of POOCH participants, and that the program assisted meeting judicial orders and educational expectations with high percentages.
Based on survey responses from the adults there appeared to be a marked behavior improvement in areas of respect for authority, social interaction and leadership.
The youth provided descriptors of change and growth in areas of honesty, empathy, nurturing, social growth, understanding, confidence level and pride of accomplishment.” (Merriam-Arduini, 2000).
“Recently, prisons [in the USA] have begun adopting programs in which inmates provide a service to the community by working with animals: referred to as human-animal interaction (HAI) programs” (Fournier, Geller, Fortney, 2007).
“Empirical research of HAI, including studies of pet ownership and animal-assisted therapy, suggests potential human outcomes may include improvements in psychiatric symptomatology, psychological states, and social behaviour” (e.g., Garrity, Stallones, Marx, & Johnson, 1987; Hecht, McMillan, & Silverman, 2001).
In the UK, the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Natural England, Mind; the UK’s leading mental health charity, and even the British Veterinary Association, are organisations that are leading the way in their proactive programmes of what’s sometimes called Green Care Therapy.
Social prescribing is now sometimes replacing, and at other times supplementing, the use of medication as a treatment for mental health conditions.
The social and therapeutic benefits of access to nature, horticulture, and environmental conservation include:- increased self-esteem, mood, confidence, employability; decrease in feelings of isolation; and general cost-effectiveness for the health service, and this has led to a new interest in ‘Care Farming’ or ‘Ecotherapy’.
Nature Therapy Work that can be carried out at the Wildlife Hospital includes:
- Animal Care
- Grounds Maintenance
- Art & Craft Activities
- Green Woodworking; Bird Boxes
- Wild Food Foraging
- Wildlife Surveying
- Visitor Centre Assistant
We will be contacting a number of agencies in the vicinity of the site, who we believe could also benefit from the creation of this Hospital and wish to form a social partnership with the Hospital.
To date we already have expressions of interest from:
Enable Ireland, Youthreach, Oberstown, SOSAD