Pet Connect, our befriending scheme pilot, has now been running for five months. We are nearly halfway through already. It’s time to take stock and review what we have achieved so far. Since January 2019, Pet Connect has:
Received 23 client referrals, of which 8 are actively receiving visits, 9 are on the waiting list, and 6 are on hold or have withdrawn
Recruited 11 Pet Buddy Team volunteers, with 4 more currently going through the application and training process
Carried out 21 Pet Buddy Team visits (and counting)
The numbers alone are a great early sign of success. But behind these numbers are the individual lives, stories, and different circumstances of 38 separate people (clients and volunteers). Through Pet Connect, we have learned that social isolation and loneliness do not discriminate, and that their effects can be devastating. However, we have also seen what a huge difference the simple acts of having a chat, playing with a dog, and spending time together can make. Our evidence so far goes to show that when they work together, dogs and people have the power to connect communities, reduce isolation and loneliness, and to improve lives.
Looking ahead to the next seven months to December 2019, we will be focussing on recruiting more Pet Buddy Teams to reach out to more socially isolated individuals. If you and your dog would like to make a difference as a Pet Buddy Team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or call 07505474390, for more information on volunteering with Pet Connect.