Guinea pig therapy centre hopes for 'recognition' after awards nod
- Credit: Danielle Booden
The owners of a guinea pig therapy centre hope an award nod will help them on their journey to getting their methods recognised.
Cuddly Cavies, based in Fakenham, have been named as finalists in the 'making a difference' category at this year's National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards.
The business evolved earlier this year by opening a 'Cavies and Cake' centre on Oxborough Lane earlier this year.
Cuddly Cavies was launched back in 2013 by Diana Taylor, from East Rudham, who took guinea pig on visits to care homes, schools and disability groups.
Mrs Taylor, 49, said the creatures make a huge difference in helping people to open up.
“With their sensory and fine motor skills, it helps so much, just by brushing and feeding them,” she said.
“They work in so many ways - from care homes, to what people get when they come to the cafe.
"Here at the cafe, they tend to help people open up and speak. They look like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
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“We've had people so stressed about going back to school, and the session helped them to calm, take stock and open up.
“You see it lift off them and it is so nice to see. If people feel happier for ten minutes, it is worth it."
Mrs Taylor started the venture after struggling to find childcare for her autistic son, Leslie, when they lived in Hampshire.
She wanted to do something that would fit in with looking after him and helping his development.
Throughout the pandemic, Mrs Taylor dropped the guinea pigs off at care homes. Now residents are travelling to the Fakenham cafe to make use of the services.
She hopes the award nomination will help guinea pig therapy gain wider acceptance among health professionals.
“In an ideal world, we would like what we do to be a recognised therapy," she said.
"That would help us on our journey. If we did win we would be really chuffed, but we will carry on plodding along with what we are doing because it's important."