“All of the young people we support are struggling with their mental health. Many have experienced trauma or neglect.” Find out how Strength & Learning Through Horses is helping.
The number of young people seeking emergency mental health support is on the rise. However, only one in three children and young people with a mental health condition get access to NHS treatment.
Strength & Learning Through Horses (SLTH) is an equine therapy and education charity in London. It offers a range of support to young people who are struggling with mental health challenges. Many of the young people have experienced trauma. One in five are in care. And most have been excluded from school or are risk of exclusion.
The charity offers both single and group equine therapy sessions. Participants gain greater resilience and learn how to manage their emotions. The charity also runs an employability skills programme, which sees young people train in animal care, gain transferrable skills such as time management and good communication, and be awarded a Prince's Trust employability qualification.
SLTH had outgrown its old site and been given notice to leave by the landlord. As the charity’s CEO, Rosie Bensley, explains, “We were in a dire situation.” Eventually, Barnet Council found SLTH a new home, but the site was in a very poor condition. Rosie shares, “It had been treated like a tip – every single building was filled to the brim with household waste. Every building was falling down; there was no electricity; there was no water; all the fencing was unsafe.”
Making the site usable cost SLTH £390,000. While the charity was able to access some funding, it wasn’t enough to cover the full cost, and most loan providers weren’t interested in helping.
Charity Bank agreed a loan in principle of £250,000. In the end. SLTH only needed to borrow £70,000 for the first phase of work, which was completed in January 2022.
“We tried getting in touch with quite a few people; Charity Bank was the only one that was genuinely helpful. Carolyn Sims came down to meet with us. She completely bought into what we offer and was really positive. Everyone we've dealt with at Charity Bank has basically said, ‘Yes, how can we help you?’ With the other organisations we spoke to, it was a case of “Computer says no.”Rosie Bensley, CEO & Education Programme Director of Strength & Learning Through Horses
SLTH is now settling into its new home. 90% of the young people the charity supports make an improvement in all three of their personal development goals. SLTH is now planning more work to the site, which will enable it to significantly increase the number of young people it supports – from 400 a year to 1,000 a year.
“I learnt how to prioritise my own mental health. The staff, dogs and horses make it an amazing environment. I have more resilience than I thought and I am not a bad person. I actually have potential and have a future. Nothing has helped my confidence more than this place.”An SLTH beneficiary
About Charity Bank
Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,100 loans totalling over £400m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.
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