Why we are launching Hamish & Milo – a little background

We are so excited to meet you and to share Hamish and Milo with you. We are very aware that in today’s challenging and complex world we can get lost in feelings that are hard to put words to and navigating the emotions that go with the ups and downs of school life can be difficult, too.

How many of you talk to a pet at home when you are feeling down or need a friend to just be there?

We know that animals are incredible at sensing how we are feeling and offer comfort and care for us when we need it most. We know too that children relate better to an animal or pet than to a person in many cases when they need comfort, to be hugged or to feel understood.

Hamish and Milo are special pets to us because our children connect to them every day to talk , cuddle or laugh with when they do funny, spontaneous things. They always help them and all the family to feel better despite what we are worried about or when we have things on our mind, or just when we need a hug at the end of a busy day.

Hamish is Anne’s family’s three-year-old cavapoochon who is bouncy, super nosy and very lovable. He joined the family during a tough time and has brought love, support and friendship to Anne and her two sons. Milo is Clare and her daughter’s kitten, just a few months old, but already very much a part of the family. He is very snuggly, purring away as he lies upside down on a lap waiting for his tummy to be tickled or jumping around chasing anything that moves, including toes! They were our inspiration in conceptualising the Hamish & Milo Wellbeing programme.

Hamish Milo Our Inspiration

It’s not always that we don’t try to understand or listen when we are parents or trusted adults with children, but sometimes we ask too many questions. We want to fix what is too hard to fix and we focus on trying to problem-solve rather than just listening and validating the experience of our children. Animals and pets are unique in being able to sense and be alongside us without question, without judgement and without wanting answers.

Children connect to animals and their pets as a way of feeling understood and not alone in feelings that can feel too big and too hard to manage. Talking to them as friends and telling them about their day feels safe as it is without fear of judgement or rejection or expectation! Animals give a unique sense of being understood without words and a real sense of intrinsic belonging.

When we have that warmth from a hug and close connection to someone, a pet or an animal, it produces the incredible natural wellbeing chemicals in our brain, in particular the bonding natural chemical oxytocin that alleviates stress. It calms our stress response system in the brain and soothes and calms our central nervous system so that we are less anxious, happier, calmer and more able to regulate our feelings. It is a beautiful release of warmth, love and connection that creates an internal sense of wellbeing.

The world is evolving and changing all the time and awareness in schools of the positive effects of animals on children’s wellbeing is a growing area too, with more and more schools having guinea pigs, rabbits, school dogs or cats and even chickens. With the increasing need to meet the emotional and mental health needs of children and the knowledge of the positive effects of animals and wildlife in our schools, we need to embrace and create enriched environments in our schools.

We hope too that Hamish and Milo will bring love and fun to the children who are able to be part of our wellbeing intervention resource and we hope to be able to share with you some of the adventures they have along the way!

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Cartoon of Milo sleeping on his chair

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Hamish with newspaper cartoon