A CRACKING new project in Greenock is giving older people with mental health problems and dementia a new lease of life.

Six chickens have made themselves at home in a luxury coop at Crown Care Centre and are proving to be a great source of pet therapy.

Meg Wallace, who is a manager at the centre which supports people over the age of 50, said the chickens have proved life-changing for their service users.

She said: "The chickens are so placid and sit with our service users - it's a great therapy.

"I have noticed a massive difference in the service users who are interacting with the chickens.

"Before we got the chickens, some of them wouldn't want to get up in the mornings but now they want to go and see the chickens."

When the chickens first arrived, they were kept in a greenhouse outside.

But thanks to local businessman Tommy Bradley, proprietor of Windowcare, the chickens now live in a state-of-the-art coop after he kindly donated a window worth £700.

Mr Bradley said: "When I received a phone call about what they were doing, I decided to donate a window for the coop free of charge.

"It's such a worthwhile project."

Youngsters are also getting in on the act as the tots from Wellington Children's Centre visit regularly.

Natalie Brown, senior childcare worker at the nursery, said: "The children love coming up and seeing the chickens.

"It's lovely to see the relationship they have built up with the centre.

"They enjoy coming down and interacting with the ladies and gentlemen who use the centre."

Mark Black, who gives up his free time to volunteer at Crown Care Centre, designed the new coop and is pleased to see the project, also supported by Laughlan Smith and Hector Crawford from the Inverclyde Shed, going from strength to strength.

He said: "Volunteering at the centre breaks the week up for me.

"I've enjoyed helping with the chicken coop."