LIFE AFTER COVID-19 - WORKPLACE WELLBEING AND HOW OUR HERITAGE IN HEALING IS NEEDED MORE THAN EVER.
Rosie bensley, discusses how CEOs supporting their teams could also unlock vital resources for young people coping with the trauma of covid-19.
At the beginning of this year, we were about to embark on a new challenge at Strength and Learning Through Horses, by launching our first non-charitable programme, working with businesses and organisations across London. The ambition? To improve workplace wellbeing through improved teamwork, while creating a sustainable funding stream for our vital work with vulnerable young Londoners.
It was the culmination of 10 years of hard and rewarding work with some of Londoners most at-risk young people; individuals with severe behavioural, mental or learning challenges, with little or no trust in not just authority figures, but society as a whole.
We’ve delivered equine assisted therapy sessions as well as employability focused education courses for 300 individuals every year to help young people make positive life changes and reengage with education and society. In January this year, we worked towards adapting these courses for the private sector.
Coronavirus stopped us in our tracks. Not only on this new initiative, that we believed would genuinely impact workplace wellbeing, but also the incredibly vital work with young people.
Our method of therapy is so hands-on. Young people learn to trust the horses first, the trainers second, and from there everything follows suit. While we have done our best to adapt how we deliver our training, it simply hasn’t been possible to get the same results, no matter the dedication of our team and young people.
While we’re cautious of our next move, the easing of lockdown restrictions will provide us with the opportunity to get back to work with young people, who need us to move them forward, and to deal with the many and varying tragedies Covid-19 has brought. Your organisation can help us do this.
Workplace wellbeing is an increasing focus for UK organisations and tackling stress will be key to ensuring the health and happiness of any workforce – especially now. Teams haven’t been working together physically for several months, and the reintegration into the workplace will be a huge challenge for many employers.
Building better teams, that work together with empathy, trust and transparency can alleviate stress, increase better communication and improve workplace wellbeing. We know our experience working with young people with complex backgrounds can be adapted to support teams to thrive.
Our course is a day-long programme, led by clinical psychologists, and it will see teams working together to collectively influence the behaviour of horses in order to complete a series of tasks.
Horses are hugely intuitive, and pick up on the energy and emotions of teams, giving immediate feedback on the functioning of the team. A horse will not be strong-armed into doing anything, and equally it will walk away from a team that is too passive. The horse trainers and psychologists help the team to make reflections on how the team is functioning and identify relevant lessons to take back to the office.
The corporate programme also goes further than other equine courses, and provides the opportunity for businesses to fulfil CSR targets. Every penny raised from the team building funding is funnelled back into the charity. Each team building session directly funds eight individuals, allowing them to access up to 12 weeks of training programmes and each organisation will receive feedback on the student supported, and an opportunity to mentor the individual after the course ends.
Coronavirus will affect so many of us financially – businesses and individuals, but none more than charities and as a result, those who use our services, those who most need our support to turn their lives around.
More than ever we need to communicate to the young people we’re working with that the skills they’re gaining; teamwork, leadership, self-reflection; are universally needed, to reinforce they’re not defined by their challenges but by their strengths and abilities. The links this new venture, although stalled and being adapted to ensure everyone is safe and protected, will improve the aspirations and achievements of our young people through mentoring; work experience placements and networking. We look forward to working with you, to shape the future of young people across London.
The corporate programme is available immediately and will include:
For more information visit our Corporate page.
For information please contact:
Kate Kandiah 07861 597 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR EDITORIALS - More about Strength & Learning Through Horses:
We are a charity partnership run by senior Clinical Psychologists and Nationally Respected Horse Trainers. We work with London’s most vulnerable young people who are excluded from education or at risk of exclusion. Typical young people we work have multiple mental health diagnoses and have experienced childhood abuse and / or neglect. Many have a learning difficulty diagnosis and over 30% have been diagnosed with autism.
The young people we work with have lost all trust in humans and are typically living very isolated lives. Our horses break down the barriers that young people put up because they reacted honestly to the emotions and behaviours that young people show. As prey animals 99% of a horse’s communications is via body language. This means they pick up on human emotions and mirror them in their own behaviour. A horse will run away from an angry young person, ignore an unsure young person, relax around a calm young person etc. Through working with these natural reactions the young people learn to identify and manage their emotions in order to build relationships with our horses.
As young people learn to trust the horses they begin to rebuild trust in humans, starting with our staff and extending to the other education and mental health support professionals in other support organisations. This newfound trust along with the confidence and interpersonal skills developed with us enables young people to turn their lives around and re engage with education and society more generally.