Kennel Club Charitable Trust supports therapy dog projects to help disadvantaged young people in Gloucestershire

Funds help local youth charity, Young Gloucestershire, to train and employ a therapy dog, helping disadvantaged young people with various mental health issues

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust is supporting the therapy programme of Young Gloucestershire, a charitable organisation that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain tools and skills for a better life, by providing funds for training and employment of a therapy dog and a handler. The duo are starting their work this week, coinciding with the Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, part of the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the health and welfare of dogs, provides support for dogs, organisations and charities who help those facing challenges with mental health, and make an everyday difference to our lives.

The £20,900 funding provided by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust has enabled the youth organisation to employ a handler for therapy dog, Border Collie, Buddy, and supported their training as well as employment. Buddy and his handler, Vanessa Radwell from Stroud, will support therapy sessions that the charity provides to young people struggling with various mental health issues.

The Young Gloucestershire team hopes that having Buddy as part of the community will fuel their therapy services in different ways – for example building confidence in young people who have anxieties about leaving the house by taking the therapy dog for walks; establishing a strong bond between the dog and young people; encouraging them to share and connect with their therapist in situations and topics which are difficult to discuss; and also improving the confidence of anxious readers.

“Although Buddy is yet to start his official therapy training with his new handler due to Covid-19, his presence in the community has already had a positive impact on many of the young people we are working with,” commented Tom Saunders, operations manager at Young Gloucestershire.

“He has spent a lot of time on one-to-one ‘walks’ with young people who have been facing traumatic experiences, struggling with mental health, anger issues or worse. Many of those who participate in our personal development programmes credit Buddy with their willingness to continue their course.  I have watched young people go from tearful, agitated and worried to relaxed, engaged and calm in Buddy’s presence.”

This Animal Assisted Intervention project highlights the positive impact that dogs can have on mental health.

Bill Lambert, spokesperson for the Kennel Club said: “Dogs provide us with love, loyalty, companionship without any judgment. Just by being around, dogs can alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.

“The mental health support that dogs provide is now more important than ever, as we face a global pandemic, leaving many people feeling isolated and anxious.”

Read further information about how the Kennel Club Charitable Trust supports charities, organisations and dogs who are a lifeline for those suffering from mental health problems. 

Find out more about Young Gloucestershire and how to support their cause.