'Ewe Talk': How sheep are improving the wellbeing of people in Oxfordshire

  • Watch this report by ITV Meridian's Natalie Verney

A flock of sheep have been helping people with their mental health.

The creators of 'Ewe Talk' based in Tetsworth, near Thame, believe they are the first in the UK to provide sheep to help with emotional well-being.

The benefits of therapy dogs and horses are fairly well-known but creators, Emma Redman and Pippa Ashton, say sheep have the perfect temperament for the role.

Emma Redman said: "If somebody comes into their space and if they use their arms a lot and they're quite anxious and quite het-up, the sheep will probably stay back a little bit.

"Then what it takes, is for you to focus on self-regulating and calming yourself down, slowing down your movements, and that's then when the curiosity element of their behaviour starts coming into play.

The sheep help people self-regulate and they're proving popular with both adults and children. Credit: ITV Meridian

"Then they'll come up and say hello and they absolutely love being fussed and cuddled."

The friends set up Ewe Talk last year with just one sheep. They now how a flock of seven and two goats who like to get in on the action.

There are various activities on offer, like walking, grooming and feeding the animals.

They even offer a mobile service where they can bring the sheep to your home.

The sheep can be taken for walks in a harness - the cuddle sessions are also very popular. Credit: ITV Meridian

Pippa Ashton said: "You can just come and spend time in the field with them. We had a girl here at the weekend and they were all lying down and she was just lying cuddling over the top.

"We had another family come in, and they were all around them to start with, quite excitable because they had food.

"But then they've calmed down and they were just enjoying being stroked. And everyone came out with smiles and laughter."

One client who keeps coming back is Joseph. He has a rare chromosome disorder and autism which makes him very sensitive to noise.

Usually, Joseph struggles to leave the house, but here, he can relax.

Joseph has complex needs and rarely leaves the house. When he's with the sheep he relaxes. Credit: ITV Meridian

His mother Melissa said: "He says he wants to be a shepherd now and he talks about it and says "I'm so happy' afterwards, so you can tell he's had a really good time.

"In the evening he's still happy, really calm afterwards so it obviously does him a lot of good."

EweTalk is a non-profit organisation and anyone is welcome.

A couple have goats have joined the flock and like to join in the fun. Credit: ITV Meridian

Emma said they hope to help schools and charities in the future, adding: "As a country we're in a mental health crisis and a lot of people don't really cope very well at all with the generic forms of therapies that are out there at the moment.

"The clinical four walls and that one-to-one, face-to-face, eye-to-eye contact just doesn't work.

"So we're really just wanting to facilitate a safe space so that people can come and just be and focus very much just on the moment."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...