An Exeter based charity which supports people experiencing homelessness has been endorsed under the Dogs Trust Together Through Homelessness scheme. This endorsement is given to homelessness services which go above and beyond to help keep people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together.
St Petrock’s works on behalf of people experiencing homelessness providing breakfasts and lunches to those sleeping rough across the city, as well as showers, laundry facilities, weekly mental health clinics, equipment and clothing. Service users can also use the phone, internet and computers from its centre in Cathedral Yard.
Abigail and Rowan during out in-person consultation in Exeter
Thanks to its dog friendly policies, clients visiting St Petrock’s can be accompanied by their canine companions, who can join clients in their 1-2-1 sessions, and are allowed in the communal areas, including the main hall. To support with this, staff or others accessing the service watch the dog whilst their owner accesses the kitchen or showers, and water bowls, blankets and toys are provided to ensure dogs are comfortable during their visits.
St Petrock’s dog friendly policies are great news for dog owners experiencing homelessness in Exeter. 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 dog friendly policies are implemented with due care and attention to both the owner and the animal, St Petrock’s has worked with the Together Through Homelessness team at Dogs Trust. The Dogs Trust team works directly with homelessness services to help them to become dog friendly through the provision of bespoke support and ongoing advice on everything from dog-friendly policies to behaviour resources. They also provide starter packs of dog items to help new dogs feel welcome at homelessness services.
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.
Rowan Livingstone, Homelessness Services Manager with St Petrock’s said:
“We’ve always supported clients with dogs, but we wanted to go that extra mile for people. The bond between a homeless person and their dog is extremely close, as their four legged companion is often their best friend in the face of significant hardship.
We’re delighted that our work has been recognised in this way by Dogs Trust and are grateful to the team for supporting us to become more dog-friendly.''
Abigail Owens, from Dogs Trust’s Together Through Homelessness project says:
“It’s great news that St Petrock’s is 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 heart-breaking 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.”
To find out more about the Together Through Homelessness endorsement scheme and support available to dog owners experiencing homelessness, click here.