Two charities recognised for keeping people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together

Two charities recognised for keeping people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together

Two Scottish charities have been recognised by the UK’s leading dog welfare organisation for going above and beyond to help keep people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together.

The Bethany Christian Trust and the Salvation Army’s Huntershill Court in Glasgow have both been endorsed under the Dogs Trust Together Through Homelessness scheme. This scheme celebrates and supports homelessness services that provide dog friendly policies. To assist, the Dog Trust team provides bespoke support and ongoing advice on everything from dog-friendly policies to behaviour resources. It also provides starter packs of dog items to help new dogs feel welcome at homelessness services.

Bethany Christian Trust supports people experiencing homelessness across Scotland. Its integrated approach of seeking to prevent homelessness, intervene in crisis and sustain people in their own homes supports around 7,000 people across Scotland every year. One of its services in Edinburgh, the Rapid Re-accommodation Welcome Centre, provides emergency accommodation between October and May each year, and welcomes dogs. This means owners experiencing homelessness in the city do not need to be separated from their canine companions.

Meanwhile, Huntershill Court, managed by the Salvation Army in Glasgow, has also been endorsed under the Dogs Trust scheme. Huntershill Court provides emergency accommodation in the city in 14 flats in single occupancy flats. Its manager had previously run another service which had worked with Dogs Trust and saw first-hand how successful it the endorsement had been, and how important dogs were to the service users.

These two endorsements are great news for those dog owners experiencing homelessness in Scotland. 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.

Dogs Trust’s Together Through Homelessness project 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.

Eleanor McLachlan from Bethany Christian Trust, said: “It has been a great privilege for us to support individuals and their dogs out of rough sleeping and into their own rooms at the Rapid Re-accommodation Welcome Centre. Dogs Trust’s free support, advice and vet care has been invaluable. Thank you for enabling us to welcome and care for those who are struggling with homelessness during the winter months!’’

Gerry Young from the Salvation Army, added: “We’re pleased to be able to support this initiative from Dogs Trust. For many people who are homeless, a dog is their lifeline and companion. The bond between them is well documented and provides many positive mental and physical benefits. They shouldn’t be forced to choose between having a safe place to sleep or staying with their pet. Making dogs welcome here is something we value.”

Abigail Owens from Dogs Trust’s Together Through Homelessness project, commented: “It’s great news that these two homelessness services in Scotland are providing dog friendly services 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 heartbreaking decision to give up their beloved pets just so they can access the services they need.

“We don’t think anyone should have to choose between these essential services and their faithful friend, and which is why we work with providers to successfully offer dog-friendly support.”

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