Chickens lay blue eggs and you can decipher the sex of a chicken by examining their feathers – just two of the facts we learned on a trip to Gateshead to visit the Henpower project.
Our work for Craigsfarm Community Development Project in Livingston led us south of the border to learn more about how they might introduce hen-keeping as an aspect of plans to develop outdoor community space. Our visit took us to meet the Hensioners at Wood Green where we learned first-hand about the impact of henkeeping on the residents of this sheltered housing complex which has resulted in some of them appearing on TV and radio, not to mention undertaking regular Hen Roadshows with their feathered friends to spread the word. Not bad for a group where the oldest is 92!
It’s evident that that Henpower isn’t just about hens. Established by Equal Arts in Gateshead, the project aims to creatively engage older people in the arts and hen-keeping in order to bring about positive health and wellbeing benefits and to reduce loneliness, and it certainly achieves this.
Henkeeping is the catalyst to bring people together, giving them a purpose, a talking point, a route to other arts activities and also the opportunity to engage with local school children. Engagement with one local school has allowed intergenerational friendships to form and children the opportunity to learn from the Hensioners about all manner of hen related information and also food provenance. The second part of our visit led us to Harlow Green Primary School where our eyes were opened to impact of the hen keeping in the school environment with children not only taking responsibility for the care of their 13 chickens, but developing their literacy and numeracy and social skills at the same time.
We’ve returned to home, inspired and henthusiastic to bring this worthwhile concept to Scotland.