A Bognor Regis charity which supports people experiencing homelessness is celebrating after being endorsed under our Welcoming Dogs scheme. This endorsement is given to homelessness services which go above and beyond to help keep people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together.
Bognor Housing Trust was founded in 1984 and has since developed to now own and manage 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.
Bognor Housing Trust’s dog friendly policies are great news for dog owners experiencing homelessness in West Sussex. 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.
To ensure its pet friendly policies are implemented with due care and attention to both the owner and the animal, Bognor Housing Trust has worked with the Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme at Dogs Trust. The scheme works directly 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.
Through the Hope Project, Dogs Trust 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.
Laura Kottaun, from Bognor Housing Trust says:
“We are delighted to be endorsed by 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 Dogs Trust for all their help, support and resources to enable us to welcome dogs in a safe way.”
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.”
The Welcoming Dogs endorsement scheme is free and available to homelessness services anywhere in the UK. Click here to find out more if you work for a service that is considering becoming dog-friendly.