Bognor homelessness charity endorsed by Dogs Trust for 'offering hope' to homeless people and their canine companions
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The Bognor-based trust, founded in 1984, owns and manages three supported housing projects for single people experiencing homelessness in the Arun District.
To allow more people to access this vital support, the charity has some pet-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.
Laura Kottaun, a spokesperson for Bognor Housing Trust, said: “We are delighted to be endorsed by the Dogs Trust under their Welcoming Dogs scheme. We firmly believe in the importance of clients having their dogs living with them and see the value it brings, not only to them, but to the service as a whole. We are grateful to the Dogs Trust for all their help, support and resources to enable us to welcome dogs in a safe way.”
In a recent survey, just 51 per cent of the homelessness services that responded said that their services were dog-friendly, while 70 per cent of professionals supporting homeless people said their clients had experienced barriers for accessing services because they have a dog.
The Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme works 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 support packs of dog items to help new dogs feel welcome at homelessness services.
Dogs Trust also runs the Hope Project, which offers free vet treatment to dogs whose owners are experiencing 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 services across the country that support dog owners.
To find out more about the Dogs Trust Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme and support available to dog owners experiencing homelessness, visit: www.dogstrusthopeproject.org.uk.
Abigail Owens, from Dogs Trust’s Hope Project, says: “It’s great news that Bognor Housing Trust is providing pet 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.”