By Natasha and Maria, 16th December 2018

Hello and welcome to The Pigfather – a family business, which was started in 2017 out of a desire to help vulnerable people in our communities to connect with animals in a meaningful way, promoting therapeutic interactions, creating happy memories, assisting in the expression of verbal and non-verbal communication and inspiring positive relationships between animals and people.

The benefits of friendly, well trained animals to the human emotional and physical wellbeing are numerous and well documented. There have been a lot of reports on the beneficial influences of such interactions especially for children with autism, learning disabilities, mental health issues and epilepsy. Our many years in the nursing profession together with the personal experience of looking after a disabled child showed us just how beneficial these interactions can be, ranging from increased ability to focus, greatly improved mood and behaviour, increased feelings of self-worth, the reduction of stress, the learning process of expression and understanding own emotions and feelings and the opportunity to learn new skills and enable the brain to create new communication connections and preserve its functions to name but a few. More information on the therapeutic benefits of animals can be found on our page here.

Why Pigs for Pet Therapy? Pigs have been found to be in the top four most intelligent animals surpassing even dogs when it comes to learning and training. In the USA pet pigs are very popular, and they have also recently started to be trained as Pets for Therapy, which has been hugely successful. After doing some research we realized that in the UK Pig Therapy is a novel concept, and there are no Certification bodies to offer guidance, support or training for a pet pig to become a Therapy Pig. Pigs are strong, sturdy animals and will not get frightened easily when properly trained, which is perfect for children/adults with special needs. This is where we spotted a need for us to offer this incredible service to our communities.

After many years of considering keeping Pigs as Pets, we finally purchased three miniature piglets in 2018 and embarked them onto an AMPA Mini Pig Pet Therapy Training Program. Fast forward several months of hard work and we now have the UK’s first Certified Therapy Pigs in training, offering an incredibly unique mobile service in London and the South East.

Since the birth of The Pigfather, we have had numerous requests for therapy pigs to attend a variety of venues, from private bookings to locations with shared access from service users. During the 2018 we have attended a number of these events, offering free therapeutic interactions with our miniature pigs, raising money for Charities such as Mind and The New Dawn Foundation.

However, we are beginning to face increasing difficulties in meeting the ever-expanding needs of our communities. With the tightening borough budgets and reduced personal incomes, many vulnerable families with children or adults with special needs are finding it more difficult to afford to pay for our services. Being a very young business ourselves with large overheads, sadly, we are unable to provide free Therapy Services to the increasing number of families who are interested in our Therapy Pigs and who would greatly benefit from such an amazing experience.

In our quest to find answers to how we could still provide an invaluable Pet Therapy Service to most vulnerable children with special needs and disabilities, we have decided to ask for donations and sponsorships. Through The New Dawn Foundation, a Charity we established in 2012 to meet the needs in our communities, we ourselves have raised thousands of pounds for valuable services, from helping to build a school in Zambia, to donating money for Sharing Lives charity and the homeless via Hope Worldwide. More information about The New Dawn Foundation can be found here:

With the funds donated to us by you, the generous public and corporations, we could provide our Services to places such as Special Education Schools, Special Residential Schools, Sebastian Action Trust for children with severe medical conditions (the Bluebells and the Woodlands Centers that provide sensory, leisure opportunities for very ill children and their families and precious moments together in a safe and specially adapted environment), NHS Medical Short Stay Respite Centers where the children have a short stay to enable respite to their families), Children’s Hospices in the South East and visit the Young Carer’s Events organized by the Family Action (siblings who help to care for their brothers or sisters).

In the early December 2018 we were contacted by a group of High School Students from London who have found our website and our charity online and were very impressed with the services that we offer. Having embarked on a recent research project with a possibility of securing a donation for a chosen charity, these young people wanted to meet us to learn more about the benefits our Therapy Pigs offer to vulnerable people in our local communities. It was with pleasure that we explained how our Therapy Mini Pigs Mikey and Sunny have been working to help people with learning and physical difficulties, and how they achieved their Certification Status. Seeing so much enthusiasm and a desire to help in these students, made us truly moved by their giving hearts. This meeting also guided us in the direction we wish to follow in the New 2019 Year, which happens to be the Chinese Year of The Pig!

We would be very grateful to receive any donations for us to expand our work with people and children who need us most and to carry on with the original aim of The Pigfather – to provide therapeutic interactions with our Miniature Pigs. We would love to raise £1,000 to provide The Woodlands, The Bluebells and Alexander Devine Hospice with free visits from The Pigfather’s Therapy Pigs in 2019. If you would like to make a donation, please, do so via our Just Giving Page.

Thank you in anticipation for all your support! We will keep you updated with all our success stories.

With Kind Regards, The Pigfather’s family team