Specialist Speech & Language Therapist and animal lover, Lesley Forrester founded Northern Animal Assisted Therapies and Activities (NAATA) in 2019. NAATA’s reason for being is to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and their families by using the benefits of animal assisted intervention and working with a team of specially reared Therapy Animals to support children’s wellbeing and communication.

As part of the Citylife Business Support Scheme, NAATA was supported by BIPC’s Website, Brand & Marketing Expert Andy Ditchburn which includes working on redesigning NAATA’s website.

Read NAATA’s story below


Tell us a little bit about your business

Northern Animal Assisted Therapies & Activities (NAATA) was registered as a Community Interest Company in June 2019. We exist to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and their families.

By delivering intervention in schools and nurseries and from our base in Wallsend, NAATA will use strategies and activities to boost outcomes for disadvantaged children or those with developmental needs. By working alongside adults to share good practice advice and evidence-based strategies, we seek to have longer term impacts for these children and all others in their care.

I founded NAATA to combine the benefits of animal assisted intervention with evidence based strategies and activities for supporting children’s wellbeing and communication. I work with a team of specially reared Therapy Animals including a Therapy Dog and Hens.


What has been the main impact of Covid-19 on your business?

Our launch was intended to take place in March around the time the first lockdown measures were put in place. The epidemic meant a significant delay with school closures and other restrictions making face to face delivery impossible at that time. Like many other businesses we were forced to step back. The main impact has therefore been the financial loss as we have been unable to trade but still incurring business running costs. As a completely new business with no trading history NAATA was not entitled to any government funding during the crisis



Have you had to re-evaluate and change the way you do business, as a result of the Covid-19 situation, and how well have any changes that you have introduced worked?

Our service delivery model has had to be adapted and this has taken some time. Activities have been redesigned to take account of social distancing requirements and new resources developed to support play learning in a way that is Covid-safe.

NAATA’s website has been upgraded, along with new policies and procedures have  been developed to safeguard our team , our animals and our service users.



What are the main types of support that you feel you need to help your business to re-position and recover?

Opportunities to network and build a client base. Support to explore new media for bringing learning content to children and training materials to their care givers.



Who was the Citylife Expert(s) that provided you with support?

Andrew Ditchburn. Perro Design & Communications Ltd



What was the nature of the support they provided?

Andrew at Perro listened to the challenges and supported the redesign of the website to reflect our revised offer and associated risk assessments and policies.

He has also worked with me to produce some wonderful language rich resources, picturing therapy animals at work and play. They have huge potential to engage children and deliver a range of therapy and learning outcomes.


Has the support that you have received from the Citylife Business Support Expert(s) helped you to move your business forward? And how?

I’ve enjoyed working with Perro very much and I’m very proud of our achievements. The support from Citylife has been nothing short of critical having kept the business moving forward at a time when it seemed the world was standing still. The financial strain on my venture has been significant due to the timing of the epidemic coinciding with our intended launch. Thanks to City life I feel NAATA’s website has kept pace with the changing landscapes in Health, Education and Care. We can now publicise our offer and show readiness for meeting children’s needs and supporting Covid recovery.


Has the Citylife support that you received helped to safeguard the future of your business and any employees?

The support from Citylife has greatly accelerated our progress toward finally launching. It has added to our stability and viability as a new business. Feeding, housing and ensuring the Therapy Animals is costly.


Thanks to the work of Perro, we are now well positioned and ready to get to work and generate income.


Northern Animal Assisted Therapies and Activities worked with Website, Brand And Marketing Expert, Andy Ditchburn



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