Our vision is to provide an exceptional level of care to children and young people in a warm and friendly environment whilst promoting independence, choice and happiness - valuing individual uniqueness and diversity


Pets As Therapy at The Beeches Uk

26 02.14

The eight-stone bull mastiff making real differences to lives

editorial imageSheila Hall from Stilton, who volunteers with Pets as Therapy taking her 6yr old bull mastif dog Biffo on home visits. Picture: Paul Franks

By Jenny Cornish
Published on Mon Aug 23 11:51:41 BST 2010

Jenny Cornish met Sheila Hall and her dog Biffo, who regularly visit The Beeches children’s home with the charity Pets As Therapy, to talk about the difference they can make to lives.
An unusual volunteer has been helping out in a children’s home in Peterborough – an eight-stone bull mastiff called Biffo.
Biffo and his owner, Sheila Hall, have been visiting The Beeches children’s home as part of the Pets As Therapy charity.
The children can pet Biffo, talk to him and groom him – a form of therapy which can help them relax.

Sheila, 42, an HR systems manager from Stilton, says Biffo loves the attention too. “We go in for a couple of hours and they make a fuss of him and groom him,” she said.
“It does make a huge difference to the children. Pets are a great leveller. He loves it and they l
ove it.
“I really enjoy it – he gets a lot out of it and so do I. It’s really rewarding to see the difference you can make.
“Some of the children have had to leave animals at home so they really miss them. Sometimes if one of them is having a tantrum when we arrive, it totally calms the situation down when we come in.”

There are six children at the home at the moment, aged from 10 to 18, all with learning 
disabilities. Sheila and Biffo go to the home once every week or two and spend a couple of hours there with the children.
Denise Grayston, manager of The Beeches, said: “The children all love it when Biffo visits. It’s a real event. 
‘‘They all look forward to him coming.
“Sometimes our children are quite excitable but when Biffo’s here it really helps to relax them.
‘‘It’s a nice atmosphere having an animal in the house, which is something we can’t do all the time.
“He’s a huge dog but he’s so calm and really placid and easy-going. He doesn’t mind how many times the children stroke him or pat him.”
Denise says this is the first time the home has been involved with Pets As Therapy and it has been a great success.
“We’d been thinking about it for quite a while and then some of the children saw the Pets As Therapy stand at the East of England Show and they picked up an application form, and it didn’t take long after that,” she said.

“During the time that Biffo and Sheila are here, it’s very much a fun time and the children are very relaxed.”
Sheila got involved with the Pets As Therapy charity about a year ago.
“My dog is so big and laid back, I thought if there was something I could do with him it would be great,” she said. “A colleague at work does Pets As Therapy and I thought I would be interested in doing it with my dog. ‘‘It’s putting something back into the community.”
Biffo went through an assessment to see if he was suitable – but passed with flying colours as he is so chilled out. Sheila started off by going into a nursing home where many of the residents were bed-ridden, but Biffo was big enough that they could still reach him to pet him.

Then a new volunteer started working at the nursing home, so Sheila and Biffo moved on to The Beeches. She says it’s a great thing to do with your pet. “The dogs have to have an extremely good temperament – they have to pass an assessment,” she said.

“As long as they’re good with people and they don’t mind being groomed and handled, they’re fine.

“We re-homed Biffo from some friends. He used to be a show dog but he hated that.

“He’s certainly found his niche in life now.

“He lies there on his back with all four feet in 
the air.

‘‘They can pull his ears and he just loves all the attention that he gets from them.”

She plans to carry on volunteering with Biffo as long as she can – and would probably do the same with another dog in the future. “Now I’ve got involved with the charity I really enjoy it,” said Sheila.

More about Pets As Therapy online:

Link to Original News Article

Making Small Changes That Make a Big Difference

08 01.14

We’re always improving the Beeches environment for everyone

We’ve known for a long time that allowing the children in our care to express their individual creativity makes for a happier home environment. The Staff and the Children have taken this one step further by considering the benchmarks set out in Every Child Matters when making any improvements. We believe we have encouraged and inspired the children to actively participate in the process and given them the opportunity to make real choices about their personal spaces.The objective the team was given was to make The Beeches an even more colourful and vibrant environment to live and work in and the results have been astounding. We proved that even small improvements have a huge impact. For example, a fresh coat of paint and a few potted plants offered the entrance of The Beeches the face-lift it needed to become a more welcoming and inviting area and first impression.

The garden has been ‘spruced up’ by the keen members of the ‘gardening team’ and it’s made a real difference to certain areas being much tidier and usable.


Children have been extremely excited about having the ability to choose paint colours and suggest adaptations to their personal spaces – ‘Dora The Explorer’ wall murals have created a fun and vibrant atmosphere in some of the girls bedrooms while bold reds and blacks have featured heavily in some of the boys bedrooms – all these changes reflecting even more so the children’s personalities and interests.


Although we strive to keep The Beeches environment as ‘spic and span’ as humanly possible, we are always looking for ways where the smallest improvement can make the most difference to what is a happy home environment.

Summer Holidays at The Beeches

30 09.13

Phew! Summer holidays at The Beeches can really be a busy time. This year the summer went smoothly though with various day trips and holidays organised which all the children thoroughly enjoyed. The first trip was a ‘custom’ trip to Newcastle with one of the children to the ‘Dr Who’ exhibition – this was a first in terms of flying and also in attending the exhibition as well as a 2-night stay in a hotel in newcastle. trips were also made to Kelling Heath in a ‘luxury’ caravan where great fun was had by all – bike-riding featuring heavily during the trip! A trip was also made to Butlins – a firm favourite among many of our children – great accommodations and entertainment to keep them occupied!!
kelling-heathdrWho Exhibitcaravan_kelling_heath

So despite the hard work, all the children at The Beeches had a fun summer holiday – something all children should have an opportunity to do. Next year I’m hoping more staff will offer to accompany children on these trips – truly a rewarding experience.