Rockinghorse Charity

Rockinghorse brings hope to families in challenging times, improving the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable children in Sussex and Surrey.

Many of those who we support are living with life-threatening conditions, profound physical or learning disabilities, mental health problems or have complex medical needs.

Working in partnership with respite centres and children’s hospitals, we strive to make services stimulating, cutting edge and accessible for the many babies, children and teenagers who need them.

Rockinghorse has been helping sick children in Sussex and the surrounding areas for over 40 years.  One of the projects Rockinghorse is currently supporting is Chalkhill.


Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit

This Fringe Festival i leave mark mark is supporting Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit in Haywards Heath.  The centre provides day care, outreach and, where necessary and appropriate, in-patient services for approximately 70 young people per year from across Sussex.  Due to the complexity of their condition, these young people need more specialist treatment than can be provided by local mental health services.

Prior to admission many of the young people have been unable to attend school, have been bullied and lost contact with friends.  Family relationships can also be strained, affecting the young people’s self-esteem and leaving them feeling extremely isolated.  Lack of participation in positive activities and interaction with their peer group can also lead to mood swings, frustration and boredom, and impact on the young people’s clinical therapy.

Chalkhill aims to create a child-friendly and non-stigmatising environment where young people dealing with mental health illnesses including eating disorders, depression and early-onset psychosis, can feel comfortable and relaxed, gain support from others in a similar situation and occupy their time with positive activities.  Alongside their clinical therapy, young people are encouraged to attend an on-site school and take part in recreational activities after school, at weekends and during holidays.  Chalkhill’s approach is backed up by a wealth of research, which shows how leisure activities are vital for the recovery of people with mental health needs, helping them to enhance their psychological, emotional, social and physical well-being.

Whilst some recreational activities are currently offered at Chalkhill, the options available are limited in terms of the type of activity and numbers of young people who are able to take part. Not all are inclusive, especially for those with eating disorders.  Rockinghorse is now seeking funding to provide a programme of workshops throughout the year offering a greater choice of activities to a larger number of young people.

What the Rockinghorse Activities will include and their benefits

Rockinghorse is fundraising to raise money for workshops for the young people. These will include yoga, samba drumming, poetry, circus skills and arts and have been chosen in consultation with young people. The activities will benefit the young people in the following ways:

  • encouraging the development of peer support networks within a safe and supportive environment
  • increasing self-confidence and self-esteem
  • promoting physical fitness and the benefits of participating in healthy activities (i.e. yoga) particularly for young people not interested in sports
  • giving opportunities to develop skills that will help the young people engage more successfully with school and independent living, including communication and team work
  • providing an outlet through which young people can express, understand and change their feelings and behaviours
  • reducing stress and anxiety particularly through activities (ie rock-climbing) in which there is a level of perceived risk that allows for a positive use of stress.

In the long term, contributing to the stability of a young person’s mental health also means that they are able to engage with wider society in a healthy way and are less likely to require periods of intervention from statutory services.

For more information about the work of Rockinghorse and Chalkhill please visit

Registered charity number 1018759