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Animal Unit

Animal Unit

Our animal unit is a huge part of what we do at Hope House School and Vacation Centre. It is well known that animals offer a unique relationship that can be extremely important for children with ASD or learning difficulties. The complex needs of our pupils means that, through working with animals, their lives can be enhanced on a therapeutic level and they are able to engage in learning activities that may not be readily accessible  in the classroom environment.

Below is a photograph of some of pupils with some of the animals, when the children raised money for Little Liam.  The family of this little boy with an incurable brain tumour were delighted with the donation of £150.  Kenny and Chloe looked less delighted at having to wear a yellow hat but Rosie wore her jumper with pride.

Animal Assisted Therapies

We offer a variety of Animal Assisted Therapies, whether it be helping children to overcome physical and emotional challenges, or reducing stress and anxiety.

We do this in a variety of ways, including riding therapy, Reading to Dogs, Animal Assisted Learning and encouraging social interaction and team work through our animal care sessions.

Animal care is taught as part of the curriculum which can lead to an ASDAN qualification.

One of our older pupils who, when he first started  at Hope House’ had very low self-esteem and communication difficulties, had a special interest in our barn owl.

He began accompanying the Animal Unit Manager when she did talks on owls for local community groups. In no time at all this young man began to do his own talks, which included speaking at a Women’s Institute meeting where he was a great success! After all, no-one is looking at you when you walk into a room with a barn owl sitting on your arm!

Our Animal Team

We literally have ‘all creatures great and small’ at Hope House, in our on-site Animal Unit. This includes horses, donkeys, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, a barn owl, reptiles and invertebrates.

Although our animals are an important part of what we do at Hope House, we are well aware of the need to maintain very high standards of animal welfare and we have a quite stringent Animal Welfare Policy and Health and Safety Guidance which must be adhered to whenever our animals interact with our pupils and members of the public.

You can really get to know our adorable animals by joining our Animal Adoption Scheme! This makes an unusual gift for both adults and children and is accompanied by a gift pack which includes an adoption certificate,  key ring, photos of your animal, the opportunity to visit your chosen animal, and newsletter updates! Proceeds from this will help to fund Animal Assisted Therapy at Hope House. 

Wildlife Watch Group

Are you 5 to 13 years old and interested in exploring nature, discovery activities and fun practical games? Then JOIN US at the Hope House Wildlife Watch Group! 

We meet on the third Saturday of the month during the summer months at 10:00 till 12:00 and we welcome all children, including those with special needs.

(Wildlife watch is the junior branch of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust)

Celebrate your Birthday with the Animals

If you are animal mad, you can celebrate your special day by meeting our animals, grooming horses and donkeys, and handling the barn owl or bearded dragon. 

We can assist in creating your animal-themed party by providing party bags, animal birthday cake, balloons, invitations,  bouncy castle and adventure playground. We can also organise lots of craft activities for your guests to enjoy, as well as quizzes and party games!

Normally parties would last 2 hours with minimum numbers of 8 and maximum of 20!  Parents are of course welcome to stay and join in the fun. If you would like some more information please call us on 01636 700380.

Riding for the Disabled


We now offer therapeutic riding sessions for both our pupils and the children who access our Clubs and Befriending Service, using our resident equines Kenny, Chloe, Largo and Rummy.

It has been shown that riders achieve improvement in many areas, including communication skills, relationship building skills as well as confidence and enjoyment.