Today, 10th October is World Homeless Day. In the UK, we have unfortunately been seeing a steady rise in homelessness over the past decade. In the 10 years before the pandemic, there was a staggering increase of over 140% in people sleeping rough.
Here at Dogs Trust, our Hope Project supporting dog owners experiencing or at risk of homelessness has been getting busier over the past few months as we come out of the pandemic and the effects of the cost-of-living crisis are being felt more widely in society. So far this year, we have already supported almost 400 dogs through our veterinary scheme with over 1,000 veterinary treatments funded by the Hope Project. This is a 23% increase compared to the same period in 2021. We have also seen a stark increase in the number of enquiries from dog owners struggling to afford the veterinary care for their dogs. We have received over 50% more phone calls this year with enquiries about our Hope Project compared to the whole of 2021.
And while these figures are important and worthy of mention, it’s crucial that we don’t forget that behind every number is a dog owner and their companion who may have lost their home recently or have been experiencing homelessness for a while. Dog owners like Tony and his 9-year-old dog Ora.
Tony has been experiencing homelessness for a few years following his service in the military. After sleeping in his car with Ora for a year, a dog-friendly homelessness service that the Hope Project works closely with was able to provide temporary supported accommodation to Tony and Ora and they have been staying there since the end of last year. We were approached by Tony when Ora had injured her leg while playing in the local park. The vets were very concerned about Ora and suspected she may need extensive surgery to treat the injury. Since then, we have been funding all necessary treatments for Ora. Recently, we caught up with Tony and he said:
‘’Thank you for your help. It’s a real weight off my head. These things are vital right now. Without your support, I have no idea what we would do. I’m forever grateful for that.’’
With the UK currently in the midst of the steepest increase of the cost of living in most of our lifetimes, homelessness figures and forecasts are looking increasingly worrying. In their 2022 Homelessness Monitor report, Crisis predicts that the aftermath of the pandemic risks a substantial rise in core homelessness. The Hope Project is also sadly expecting to see a further increase in the demand for our services. We are monitoring the situation and are prepared to provide vital support to more dog owners experiencing homelessness or in housing crisis this winter.
If you work for a homelessness service and support dog owners, please get in touch to discuss how we may be able to support your service and your clients. From free vet care and dog food throughout the year, to our Christmas parcel service with free festive doggie items, and our Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme, there is a lot we can offer to dog owners experiencing homelessness and homelessness services alike. We’d be happy to chat about what support we can offer – click here to contact us.