Ferret therapy credited with giving health boost to youngsters from Brighton and Hove

Spending £3,000 on ferret therapy might spur some people to ask whether it was wise to let teenagers spend council tax payers’ money.

It turns out that the relatively modest sum helped 10 young people with mental health problems a chance to benefit from the therapeutic effects of doing voluntary work with animals.

Raystede, the Ringmer charity that mostly rehomes cats and dogs, offered placements to the youngsters who self-harmed, had drug problems or had other mental health issues.

And the project won praise from councillors and other community leaders as four teenagers in Brighton and Hove shared details of how they spent a total budget of £88,000 on projects aimed at helping young people.

Four youngsters representing different organisations explained how they allocated the cash in a presentation to members of Brighton and Hove City Council.

They said that four priority areas were chosen, when they addressed a meeting of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee yesterday (Tuesday 13 November).

They gave the highest importance to mental health, which received £33,500.

Kelsey, a teenager who attends the Hangleton and Knoll Project, spoke about the process of putting together a bid.

She said: “I enjoyed writing the funding bid for young women. I planned it with the help of my youth worker.

“I get to help young women get away from the area. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

“A year ago I would not have been able to talk out loud about it.

“Going to the Hangleton and Knoll Project has increased my confidence and faith in myself.”

The Hangleton and Knoll Young Women’s Group supports eight to ten young women experiencing stress, anxiety, depression and have confidence issues.

Its grant of £2,496 is going towards a residential trip to help the young women try out new activities to learn about budgeting and cooking.

Councillor Caroline Penn

Labour councillor Caroline Penn said: “The wonderful things you’ve done for mental health with the choice of different grants for different activities are fantastic and are going to be very positive for people with anxiety and depression.

“There are some wonderful things here – ferret therapy, just going out and getting out into the countryside, looking after animals and your wellbeing is so important.”

Conservative councillor Vanessa Brown commended the young people for their hard work – and their presentation.

She said: “I look forward to seeing the outcomes to see what went very well – and it will help you next time around to know what funding to give to different projects.”

A total of 23 projects supporting young people received grants.

The largest sum – £7,292.66 – went to Grub Club, a partnership between local charity Extratime and the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership.

Grub Club is a weekly cookery club for young people with special educational needs or disabilities.

A further £26,250 went towards positive youth activities, with £5,000 going towards the Young People’s Centre Global Social Club, targeting 60 to 70 young refugees with support and cultural activities.
Fewer bids went towards projects focusing on alcohol and substance misuse, with the teenagers allocating £14,500.

The Tarner Community Project young men’s group received £5,000 towards its evening club helping them to build self worth and self esteem.

Work experience and volunteering projects had almost £14,000 allocated.

The largest sum in this category, £4,790, went to Your Music Spaces, offering workshops and music activities for young people facing issues with alcohol and drugs, as well as unhealthy and abusive relationships.

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