Residents in one homelessness scheme we support decided that a trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park would be ideal for them by being both fun and educational.
The scheme is for single homeless women, who represent only 14% of rough sleepers. They are more likely to be running from domestic violence, and to be in increased danger of abuse while homeless.
Days out help people who have become isolated by their homelessness, and have often faced abuse and trauma, to broaden their horizons and build new relationships. All of the residents at the scheme have very limited budgets and receive benefits due to long term sickness or disability, so they chose to take packed lunches on their day out in order to save money.
A member of support staff described the trip’s highlights. “The giraffes were a big hit, and we spent a lot of time taking pictures and marvelling at their long lashes while we enjoyed ice creams.
“The wallabies were also popular, especially because we all got the opportunity to pet one that was having its lunch near the fence post where we stood taking pictures. We enjoyed a laugh over some lemurs having an argument with each other. And everyone said “Awwww” in unison when the baby meerkats did what meerkats do best: stand to attention!
“The tigers were a bit on the anti-social side but you could see them camouflaged among some shrubs, if you squinted hard enough. We stayed at the baboons for quite a while – all of us mesmerised by their social hierarchy, and similarity with humans, such as their strange little habits of picking and eating at things in each other’s fur (hopefully not like us in that respect!).”
After a full day of strolling around and seeing the exotic wild life, it was time to head back; but not before hitting the gift shop. Two women were delighted with their panda mugs, and one got a toy for her grandson. On the bus home they were all worn out, but still managed a good chin wag about their favourite experiences of the day.