AN equine charity initiative that supports disengaged young people has got more than 70 per cent of them back into education in its first year.

Changing Lives through Horses is an initiative that “uses the power of horses to inspire change”.

Since its launch in 2017, the programme has more than doubled in size, from 12 centres to more than 30 now offering this programme across the country.

The programme is run by the British Horse Society (BHS) and targets young people who are, or at risk of becoming NEET – not in employment, education or training.

Government figures suggest there are more than 800,000 people aged 16 to 24 who are NEET. Changing Lives is a programme that aims to provide an opportunity for participants to learn new skills, supporting them as they reconnect with society, whether they choose to work with horses or explore a completely different career path.

Actor Martin Clunes, is the BHS’s president and ambassador for Changing Lives, said: “I’m thrilled about the work that the BHS is doing with Changing Lives through Horses.

“I’ve witnessed it first-hand all around the world, how many people’s lives are changed through horses, and it’s a brilliant way to scoop people up who might have been left behind.”

The programme aims to reignite a desire to learn, encouraging participants to return to education or employment.

One of the young people helped by the scheme was Melissa.

The BHS said she has a disability that meant she couldn’t cope in mainstream school. Her Mum spoke about the difference in Melissa since she joined Changing Lives.

She said: “We really can’t believe it, its life changing, completely and utterly life changing… she’s got friends and she’s happy.”

Attending the Changing Lives programme has allowed Melissa’s health to flourish; she is now working towards her GCSEs. Her mum added this isn’t something that would have been possible beforehand.

She said: “Her whole outlook has changed… she’s so much brighter within herself.”

More than 100 participants have accessed the programme to date. In order to expand, the BHS needs to train more coaches and centres so they can run Changing Lives.

The charity rely solely on donations and grants so they can continue to grow the programme.

To find out more about the programme, or to donate, visit