Animal Magic is a project of Star Wards which is itself a project of the social justice charity Bright. Star Wards provides practical ideas and inspiring examples from and for mental health ward staff. About 650 wards are members and enjoying introducing small changes which make a massive difference to patients. Star Wards was set up by Bright’s chief executive, Marion Janner OBE, following her time as a detained patient. Marion is a devotee of inpatient care and the staff who frankly heroically provide it, and is deeply appreciative of the staff who care for her when she’s in St Ann’s, Tottenham.

Read more here: www.starwards.org.uk


screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-40-32“At Star Wards we’re all about inspiring and equipping ward staff in helping patients to feel good about who they are. What better way to do this than making sure patients have comforting, nurturing, fun, safe contact with animals? Animal Magic is a testimony to the creative efforts of ward staff and the transformational effect Buddy, my support dog, has had in my recovery journey over the past 13 years. Being the Zen-like Tibetan Terrier she is, Buddy’s always kept me feeling a lot safer and saner both in and out of hospital and has given me a positive focus. And even though my mental health is much better than it was 12 years ago, our relationship brings me much happiness and joy. Patients and staff love her too; I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen pics of her furry face stuck to notice boards on the wards I’ve visited over the years. Luckily, her celebrity-like status has never gone to her furry head!

The site was inspired (and funded!) by The Guardian and its super-generous readers when Star Wards was so fortunate to be one of their Christmas Appeal charities in 2014. The biggest response we got from the warm coverage about mental health wards was about animals, so this website is dedicated to The Guardian and its amazing journalists and readers. Big thanks also to State Hospital Scotland who I had a fascinating visit with, and who are doing exceptionally inspiring therapeutic work with animals, a lot of which can be found in their exemplary guide.

Animal Magic exists to support the magical benefits of humans and animals doing great things together on and off the ward. Nic Higham, our fab web designer (and cat owner, amongst many other things), has done a remarkable job of creating an outstandingly wonderful site – I really hope you enjoy browsing it too! Please do send us your own furry/finny/funny examples so we can share them with others.”

Marion Janner