HenPower community project spreads its wings to Darlington

HenPower, a community project which uses hen-keeping and arts to improve wellbeing and tackle loneliness among older people and those with dementia, is spreading its wings to Darlington.

Devised by charity Equal Arts, the project will see children and older people take part in weekly creative activities led by professional artists, exploring life in the town through the decades and sharing experiences.

Those gearing up to be ‘henergised’ through heritage include Ted Fletcher Court (a sheltered housing scheme run by Darlington Borough Council), Rydale Care Home and Beaumont Hill Academy, part of the Education Village Academy Trust.

Councillor Paul Howell, Cabinet member for leisure and local environment at Darlington Borough Council, said: “Loneliness and dementia are two significant challenges facing society.

“This innovative approach is very welcome, and I look forward to seeing how it develops. Hopefully the results will be egg-straordinary!”

The project aims to build confidence and strengthen a sense of place among those taking part, with cross-generational workshops in ceramics, painting and poetry. 

As part of the project, there’ll be visits to Darlington Hippodrome, the Market Square and Head of Steam to spark conversations about what it means to live in Darlington.

Rosi Thornton, Equal Arts’ HenPower associate, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to bring the benefits of our HenPower project to people living in Darlington.

“The hens, sharing experiences and learning alongside each other all prove a great catalyst to help people of different ages build friendships and make lasting links within their community.”

The £16,500 project will culminate with a community exhibition and has been largely funded by Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, iWill Fund, Creative Darlington and participating venues.

Karen Gilbey, scheme manager at Ted Fletcher Court, said: “We’re looking forward to being part of the award-winning HenPower project. We’ve welcomed in our hens and, of course, the supply of fresh eggs!

“Exploring Darlington’s heritage will be interesting and I’m sure there will be plenty of stories to share.”

You can find out more about the HenPower project on the Equal Arts website.

Source: Darlington Borough Council