Elderly residents welcome feathered friends into South Shields home

Nan Gallagher and Belle Puttock from the Harton Hinnies.
Nan Gallagher and Belle Puttock from the Harton Hinnies.

Elderly residents at a care home in South Tyneside have been welcoming in a brood of feathered friends as part of a new project.

Staff and residents at Harton Grange, South Shields, have teamed up with the charity Equal Arts in Gateshead, to join it’s award-winning HenPower Project.

Residents at Harton Grange in South Shields have been looking after chicks as part of a new project.

Residents at Harton Grange in South Shields have been looking after chicks as part of a new project.

Known as the Harton Hinnies, the men and women have hatched chicks at the home which they will look after and tend to in their gardens in Bolden Lane, South Shields.

The residents started the project six months ago - given the eggs to hatch using incubators at the home.

The eggs hatched on Tuesday and the residents will raise the chicks at the home with the idea of improving the wellbeing of older people

Among the group is 100-year-old Nan Gallagher, who was delighted with the 14 chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange in South Shields have been looking after chicks as part of a new project.

Residents at Harton Grange in South Shields have been looking after chicks as part of a new project.

She said: “I’ve got to 100 and this was the first time I’ve held a tiny chick in my hands. It’s caused a stir. Everybody loves them. It’s been a great excitement for us all.”

First tried in Gateshead in 2013, HenPower uses looking after the birds to reduce loneliness and improve the wellbeing of older people and those living with dementia.

Bev Wilson, deputy manager at the home, which is run by Barchester Healthcare, said: “We’ve had singing and painting to celebrate their arrival and now the hens are here, residents, relatives and staff just love them.

“Residents have the opportunity to be responsible for raising the Harton Hinnies from chicks to hens. Without this great organisation it wouldn’t be possible and we can’t thank them enough.

Residents at Harton Grange in South Shields have been looking after chicks as part of a new project.

Residents at Harton Grange in South Shields have been looking after chicks as part of a new project.

“To see the joy, the opportunities and the love it has brought to our residents, their families and the staff is amazing.”

The group has spent the past few months working with Equal Arts’ artist Betty Hill in weekly sessions.

Alongside learning about hen-keeping and the different breeds they’ve been making bunting, painting, felting and taking part in musical sessions.

The Harton Hinnies now plan to paint a hen house ready for their feathered friends to move into.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Betty added: “It’s fantastic to see residents at Harton Grange benefiting from the project and the creative opportunities it brings.

“HenPower gives people a role and responsibility.

“It builds relationships and moves away from passive care you so often see in care settings.

If you have a care home that would like to be HenPowered, or a school who’d like to develop intergenerational links contact: information@equalarts.org.uk’

One of the chicks at Harton Grange.

One of the chicks at Harton Grange.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care homehave been hatching chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care homehave been hatching chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.

Residents at Harton Grange care home with the chicks.