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London pensioners are using hens to tackle loneliness

11th August 2015

A pioneering project, funded by the Big Lottery, is helping tackle loneliness and social exclusion in London by building hen houses at a number of the residential homes in Marylebone and Hammersmith.

Boris Johnson has endorsed the scheme, which enables pensioners to take care of the animals, enhancing their day-to-day life by keeping them stimulated.

HenPower has been dubbed an innovative way to help address the issues that lonely pensioners face, and as the older population in the capital is growing, this valuable scheme should prove to be incredibly beneficial for older Londoners. Even residents such as stairlift users can access the hen houses, and those looking after the new additions have been given the new name of ‘hensioners’ by those running the project.

Feathered friends for London pensioners

Many of the residents grew up with chickens, either at home, or during the wartime evacuation when children were sent to the countryside. One of the residents, Ruth Xavier, used to live in Trinidad and looked after chickens during her childhood. She now checks the hens before bedtime, which she says gives her something to do, with the hens becoming ‘like children’ for her.

Penfold Street was one of the first to receive a hen house, which has four chickens named Lady Gaga, Henrietta, Katie and Rennee. Since being given the responsibility of looking after these chickens, it has been reported that a number of the pensioners are relying on medication less, as well as carers noticing a significant improvement in the well-being of residents.

Care manager Wendy Wilson told the Evening Standard: “Every day we are out here with anticipation.” Residents at the residential home have hedged bets that Lady Gaga will be the first to lay an egg, although they are unsure whether it will be eaten or decorated.

Image Credit: betancourt (


This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing