Feedback from Professionals


“The bears and all the animals rescued here are beautifully kept. The children enjoyed watching and hearing how these animals who had been neglected and mistreated are now happy and healthy. The animals offer a connection that cannot be made by words.” – James Cox, Kinship Assessment Co-ordinator, Edinburgh District Council

“I am so pleased that your programme is addressing an area with a very pressing need, hitherto neglected in the UK”
Elizabeth Ormerod BVMS FRSA MRCVS
Vice President – International Association for Human-animal Interactions, IAHAIO
Vice President – Canine Partners
Director – Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS)

“Two of the children under my care suffered a very traumatic loss days before the trip to the Five Sisters Zoo to visit the bears. On the car journey out there neither of the children would speak and were quite aggressive towards each other. On arrival at the zoo they were withdrawn, eyes lowered to the ground and not engaging, but within seconds of seeing the bears and other animals their curiosity and interest eased their sadness and they starting chatting and interacting and the difference was palpable. They also had great fun running around in the playground and eating ice cream. On the journey home the difference was incredibly noticeable and very positive, with both children being gentle with each other and talking about meeting all the animals. A wonderfully beneficial day for the children during a very difficult time.” – Elspeth Grace-Biala, Social Worker, City of Edinburgh Council

“This was a lovely experience for the children. Learning about how the bears were rescued and seeing how much they have come on shows that in the right environment, with love and care, animals and humans can thrive!” – Liz Johnston, East Lothian Council, Kinship Care Family Support Worker and Mentor, Project Manager

“I am only too happy to supply some feedback on today’s activity. It was great to see that all of the children were listening and engaged in the activity. Children are a hard audience and will not ‘pretend’ to be interested. There was a wide age range but they all seemed to take something from the morning and were overjoyed with their goody bag and lovely bear book.(I am sure that a lot of the adults learned something today also.) The children that I transported enjoyed reading their books on the way home. Whilst in the car one of the girls said (without any prompting) ‘We will never go to see a circus again if there are animals in it’. Most of the kinship carers are on a very low income and they were very appreciative of having the day in the Zoo. This is an outing that most of them would not normally be able to afford.” – Seonad Lawson, Social Worker, Kinship Care, Grangemouth Social Work Department.  Falkirk District Council

“The Storytelling and Reading with Dogs workshop was fantastic! The children clearly enjoyed themselves and got a lot out of it. Seeing them reading to the dogs was magical. I really wish this charity all the best for the future as I believe it is a vital service for children who have experienced trauma.” Jemma Carroll, Family Support Worker, Children 1st

“The storytelling workshop was so much fun and the children all enjoyed it. It was a great way to get the children interacting and they all loved being involved. The story telling sticks were also a great way to get the children involved and the song at the end was good fun. Overall a great workshop for both parents and children. Looking forward to the next one.”  Lynne Hogg, Falkirk Women’s Aid

“Our Live Literature programme supports sessions that are innovative, fun and make a difference. I visited Fostering Compassion’s dedicated team of volunteers to see them deliver all of this and more, with the help of professional storytellers and therapets. The session really was a safe space for the young people, family members and carers to listen, create and share stories. A brilliant afternoon and a fantastic team doing much-needed, good work.” Kay Bohan, Live Literature, Scottish Book Trust

“The visit to the vets was excellent and informative. The children I had referred really enjoyed it and one in particular was really engaged and asked lots of questions as well as racing “Ben” the collie dog round the doggy assault course! It was a very positive experience for the whole family and they’re looking forward to the trip to the zoo to see the bears and the other animals. This is a great charity, keep up the amazing work and I look forward to bringing more families along over the coming years.” Sandra Brown, Family Support Worker, East Lothian Kinship Care Project, Children 1st

“It was very special today – not just seeing the bears, who are always wonderful, but seeing vulnerable and troubled children open up and smile when they saw the bears! Thank you for letting me be part of it.” Jacqui du Rocher, Fostering Compassion Volunteer, Former Hospital Chaplain

“It is a real pleasure being part of the Fostering Compassion Program. In my professional role with the children’s hearing system, I see daily the need for a program with such a positive approach to giving children and young people the opportunity to experience what it means to respect and be respected. You can see through the interaction between the young person and animal the building of trust, and it’s only the beginning! What can be achieved in one session with the Fostering Compassion Program for the animal and the young person can be a little light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”  Holly Kilday, Senior Volunteer

“I feel it is an honour to be asked to be part of such a wonderful project. I hope so many more families are going to benefit from the great work of Fostering Compassion.” Sheila Dales, Fostering Compassion Volunteer, Support Worker

“It was an absolute honour and pleasure to be part of the group today which visited the bears at the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder with a group of 12 children from Edinburgh. It was very special and I think the children had such a fun time, taking away from the day the message that out of adversity hope can spring. I hope the example of the journey the bears have made in their lives, from a difficult start in the circus to moving to the care and safety of the Five Sisters Zoo, where they were given the opportunity to experience a more caring, stable and secure environment along with the freedom to thrive and enjoy being a bear again, will be something the children can relate to.

I consider the work being done here by this small animal charity called The Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears as providing an extremely innovative approach to supporting young people who have experienced abuse and neglect in their lives, in finding alternative ways to move forward and overcome feelings of low self worth – thus preventing the cycle of abuse being repeated.”  Andrea Stewart, Fostering Compassion Volunteer, Senior Support Worker

“The activity was very informative and allowed the children to see how animals can live happily after having a very controlled life. The families thoroughly enjoyed learning about the bears and their stories. Some of the children could relate to how the bears were feeling.”  Lynne Hogg, Falkirk Women’s Aid