A Dukinfield-based animal therapy group is in high spirits after being awarded a significant amount from The National Lottery Community Fund.
Noah's A.R.T, which aims to reduce isolation, social anxiety and improve overall mental health using rescued animals, has received £145,000 from the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
The much-needed funding will be used to continue offering a wide range of services to support people in the community dealing with issues associated with poor mental health.
Established in 2013 by former mental health nurse Sharon Hall, Noah’s A.R.T was set up to offer people in the community dealing with poor mental health an alternative to traditional methods.
During her time as a nurse, the avid animal lover felt that the after care for mental health patients was inadequate, with many returning to the ward after being released just a few weeks prior.
The group offers one-to-one therapy sessions with the animals, outreach sessions in schools and mental health wards, as well as employability workshops for people considering a career with animals.
Other services include a dog café for members of the public, corporate wellbeing services where they visit local businesses and offices with the animals, and they even offer video call sessions from their resident ‘guru’ guinea pigs.
Sharon said: “Our one-to-one therapy sessions are a really good place for people to start, especially if they have really bad social anxiety. There are three people maximum in the room and you find conversations flows because they can talk about the animals their confidence grows quite quickly from there.”
The organisation currently boasts more than 70 rescued animals with most of the cute critters living with Sharon, and the rest living with the various therapists employed by the group. The animals range from bearded dragons to rabbits, mice, cats and even a gecko named Velvet.
She added: “We wouldn’t be here; we wouldn’t have survived without National Lottery players. So many people are going to benefit because of the funding. We can’t say thank you enough, it’s just such a relief.”
Gillian Halliwell, Head of Funding for North West at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this vital funding is having a huge impact on people’s lives across Greater Manchester. It’s so inspiring to see dedicated volunteers and groups, like Noah’s A.R.T, supporting those most vulnerable in their community, to prosper and thrive.
"This funding has given a much-needed cash boost to communities, so they can build back stronger from the pandemic and to enable vital services to continue to provide support.”
In total, 171 charities and community groups across Greater Manchester have been awarded almost £3,500,000 of National Lottery funding in the past three months.
Noah's A.R.T is currently the charity which we're supporting through sales of the Tameside Reporter. You can read more about the charity and how you can help us to support it here.