Horses Helping People near Leighton Buzzard celebrates National Lottery windfall

Group supports those living with mental health issues and learning disabilities

By Steve Sims
Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 9:14 am

A group that runs horsemanship sessions for those living with mental health issues and learning disabilities is celebrating after receiving nearly £100,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund

The finance, which was raised by National Lottery players, represents a major lifeline for Ledburn-based Horses Helping People, which gives those experiencing a range of challenges the chance to experience the calming effects of spending time with horses.

Horses Helping People, based at Sunrise Farm, will use its £95,360 grant to expand its mindfulness and wellbeing sessions, introduce a new nature activity group, and develop an online service to reach out to even more people.

Horses Helping People: (L-R) Debbie La-Haye, Amee the Horse, and session support Beccy Ross

The community interest company was launched in 2008 by couple Debbie La-Haye and Dave Johnson, who met when working together within therapeutic horsemanship.

Both Debbie and Dave have always shared a love of horses and previously taught people how to ride, with Dave even working on ranches in Canada.

The couple, along with son Morgan, are now making the next leap forward and will also use the National Lottery grant to support a mindfulness trainer and a sessional support worker, as well as launch a new vocational training programme for those looking to set up their own therapeutic centres.

The psychological benefits of being around horses is being recognised by a growing number of professionals who work with autistic children, young people with behavioural problems, and adults dealing with depression or addiction.

Debbie said: “Often we only need to be in a horse’s presence to feel a sense of wellness and peace. In fact, research shows that many people experience benefits such as lowered blood pressure and heart rate, decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, and even improved social functioning, trust, and patience. We certainly see these benefits in the people we help.

“Learning mindfulness alongside the horses in a countryside environment gives people a healing space and also the skills to look after their mental health in the future. We want to thank all National Lottery players – the simple act of buying a ticket is really helping to change people’s lives.”

National Lottery players raise £36 million each week for good causes throughout the UK, with National Lottery funding helping people and communities to thrive and supporting them as they seek to overcome challenges raised by the pandemic.

Helen Bushell, Senior Head of Regional Funding for London, South East and East of England at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “I am incredibly proud to see the amazing impact that money raised by National Lottery players is having in communities across the Eastern region.

“Recent challenges have shone a light on the inspiring volunteers and groups, like Horses Helping People, which have been dedicated to helping their communities to thrive. This funding has given a much-needed boost to community spirit this year after what has been an extremely difficult time for many.”

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year £588.2 million of life-changing funding was awarded to communities across the UK.

Over eight in ten (83%) grants are for under £10,000 – going to grassroots groups and charities across the UK that are bringing to life amazing projects that matter to their communities.

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