Welcoming Dogs at HARP with Dogs Trust's Hope Project
We are celebrating after being endorsed under the Dogs Trust Welcoming Dogs scheme. This endorsement is given to homelessness services which go above and beyond to help keep people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together.
HARP offers essential services and long-term solutions to support local people taking steps to move on from homelessness. The charity currently provides housing for up to 264 people that might otherwise be sleeping on the streets, all of whom have an action plan to help them manage and overcome the issues that might be surrounding their homelessness.
To allow more people to access this vital support, the HARP has some dog friendly spaces and welcomes owners experiencing homelessness to bring their dogs with them.
Staff and residents have noticed how being dog-friendly and welcoming canine companions has improved the atmosphere, encouraged people to engage with each other more and give an all-round more homely feeling.
HARP’s dog friendly policies are great news for dog owners experiencing homelessness in Southend. In a recent survey of professionals supporting those experiencing homelessness, 70% told Dogs Trust that their clients had experienced barriers for accessing homelessness services because they have a dog. Further to this, 84% were aware of one or more cases where someone had refused an offer of temporary or emergency accommodation as it would have meant giving up their dog.
Just 51% of the homelessness services that responded to the Dogs Trust survey said that their services were dog friendly.
To ensure its dog friendly policies are implemented with due care and attention to both the owner and the animal, HARP has worked with the Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme at Dogs Trust. The scheme works directly with homelessness services to support them to become dog friendly by providing bespoke support and ongoing advice on everything from dog-friendly policies to behaviour resources. The project also provides starter packs of dog items to help new dogs feel welcome at homelessness services.
Through the Hope Project, Dogs Trust also provides free veterinary treatment to dogs whose owners are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, the provision of an online directory of dog-friendly homelessness services in the UK, and a Christmas parcel service, where the charity sends out dog goodies to homelessness services across the country that support dog owners.
Jennie Bioletti , Emergency Accommodation Manager from HARP says:
"There are times that we find ourselves unable to offer accommodation to an individual in need, for a variety of reasons. It is most upsetting, when we have been unable to accommodate someone simply because they have a dog."
"As a dog owner myself, I understand the importance of our relationships with our four legged friends, especially when we experience difficult times. They are company when we are lonely, they offer unconditional love and our dogs very presence can be therapeutic."
"I am absolutely delighted that we have worked with Dogs Trust's Hope Project to give dogs and their owners a safe and supportive environment where they can work on building a brighter future, together."
"We are big dog lovers here at HARP, all the staff are really supportive of the Welcoming Dogs initiative. We currently have 11 dogs in our accommodation and it is clear the difference it makes to a person's recovery. Thanks to working with Dogs Trust we can help more people and their dogs."
Abigail Owens, from Dogs Trust’s Hope Project says:
“It’s great news that HARP is providing dog friendly accommodation for people experiencing homelessness. It’s already having a positive impact on the people accessing these services, and it is a great example of how being dog-friendly can be achieved in a safe, responsible, and homely way.
“For most dog owners, being separated from their dog is no different from being separated from a family member. Many dog owners experiencing homelessness are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their beloved pets just so they can have somewhere safe and secure to sleep.
“We don’t think anyone should have to choose between a bed or their faithful friend, and we work with many temporary accommodation providers, to successfully offer dog-friendly support.
“It’s incredibly important that pet-friendly housing is available at every step of someone’s housing pathway, and we’re keen to work with as many homelessness services as possible so that we can help keep people and their pets together.”
To find out more about the Dogs Trust Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme and support available to dog owners experiencing homelessness, please visit https://www.dogstrusthopeproject.org.uk/
About Dogs Trust
Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and normally cares for around 14,000 dogs across its network of 21 rehoming centres in the UK and one in Dublin. Dogs Trust has a non-destruction policy and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. The charity also focuses its efforts on understanding dogs and sharing that knowledge with the wider public to prevent problem behaviours that can result in relinquishment or abandonment. We are working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction.