Apprentice overcomes social anxiety through donkey role

Hollie Ireson, left, and managing director of Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing, Sarah McPherson

Hollie Ireson, left, and managing director of Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing, Sarah McPherson - Credit: Submitted

A Norwich City College apprentice who suffered from social anxiety has developed life-changing skills through working with donkeys.

Hollie Ireson, 19, who works at Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing [MiniDonks] has successfully completed her apprenticeship in business administration, achieving a level two diploma.

After initially studying childcare in 2019, Miss Ireson was given the opportunity by the managing director of MiniDonks, Sarah McPherson, to have a complete change of career direction.

Hollie Ireson began volunteering at Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing in 2018

Hollie Ireson began volunteering at Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing in 2018 - Credit: Submitted

Miss Ireson, who began volunteering with the social enterprise in 2018, said: "I’ve always suffered from a lack of confidence and social anxiety, but spending time with the mini donkeys and other volunteers really helped.

"Donkeys are good for everyone’s wellbeing because they are very affectionate and don’t judge." 

Now that she has completed her apprentice, Miss Ireson plans to stay on at MiniDonks in a part-time role.

The social enterprise delivers therapeutic donkey visits to care homes, dementia groups, special schools and other settings across East Anglia.