Salvation Army centre celebrates role of caring for rabbits in rehabilitation

published on 23 Sep 2016

To mark International Rabbits Day today (Saturday 24th September 2016), a Salvation Army treatment centre for people with substance misuse, drug and alcohol issues is celebrating the significant role that caring for rabbits has on the recovery and rehabilitation of individuals at the centre.

Gloucester House, in Highworth near Swindon, passionately believes that no one is beyond hope and aims to inspire service users to embrace on-going change and to build a new life free from addiction. The centre has kept rabbits for over 6 years. Currently cared for at the centre are Wilson and Ebby.

Wilson was rescued after a long period of living in fear and neglect from an owner who was caught up in addiction himself, and was unable to cope. After being rescued by a staff member at Gloucester House, it took many months for her to allow anyone near to her. 

“The start of her healing was when a service user struggling with addiction, mental health issues and post-traumatic stress, who was finding it very difficult to communicate with anyone, arrived at Gloucester House”, said a staff member at Gloucester House. “The bond between both was beautiful to see. Not only could he pet her, but she would run to him whenever she saw him. I believe it was at this moment that the first healing for both of them began. The shared experience of trust and love between them was very special to witness”.

Wilson has gone on to help many other service users in the same position. When former service users return to visit Gloucester House, they always look to pay Wilson a visit.

As she has grown older and had health problems, the service users grew concerned, and it was decided that Wilson should have her own rabbit playmate, and so six months ago, Wilson was joined by Ebby, a young male rabbit, at the centre.

Both Wilson and Ebby take their names from the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The AA book and 12 steps are core to the rehabilitation programme that is used at Gloucester House.

To see the two rabbits curled up together and grooming each-other is the beginning of another chapter of the joy that comes with caring for the rabbits at Gloucester House for staff and service users.

For information on referrals, assessments and admissions for individuals to Gloucester House, please call the centre on 01793 762 365 or email Ros Rolfe at

For more than 150 years The Salvation Army has been transforming lives and continues to do so today in communities across the UK and throughout the world.