Wednesday, 18 May 2022
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Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Charity tackling elderly social isolation with the help of four-legged friends

A volunteer-run dog charity based in South London is launching a befriending service with a twist this spring after a successful pilot last year.

CareDogs operates within the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Croydon, Bromley and Lewisham. The charity aims to solve social isolation in the elderly through a range of services centred around the positive impact dogs can have on our lives.

With the launch of their new service, CareDogs is welcoming volunteers and their beloved pet dogs to befriend an older person in need. Whether they’re housebound, living with dementia or going through bereavement, CareDogs is giving dog owners an opportunity to do good by making bespoke pairings between volunteers and clients. The simple aim is to encourage human connection through canine companionship. 

As a nation of dog-lovers, the pilot project has already made a huge impact for the six volunteer pairings taking part, helping to build confidence and new friendships. 

Colin, 80 from Bromley, was one of those to benefit from the charity’s pilot befriending service. Speaking about the difference it had made, he said:

“I used to drive everywhere before, but meeting Fiona and Ellie every week has been so good for me, to have a walk and a talk. I was lost after my wife Jo died unexpectedly last year. Having these walks every week has helped me regain structure – and I remember my love of walking! I now walk a lot more and feel so much better for it.”

The launch of the befriending service is particularly timely after the impact of Covid-19 resulted in almost one-in-five elderly people feeling less confident to leave the house by themselves, as well as increasing levels of depression and anxiety in the over-70s. However, in contrast, more than 85% of dog owners stated their pets had a positive effect on their wellbeing during the pandemic – something CareDogs are keen to replicate with their latest service.

The charity is now launching an urgent appeal to raise £3,000 by 19 April. The funds raised will be used to expand the befriending service to 50 volunteers so it can reach and help more people. Backed by the National Emergencies Trust, any individual donation up to the value of £250 will be doubled meaning the charity will get twice as much as people are able to donate. 

Delphine Chui, founder and CEO of CareDogs, said:

“Our befriending service has already shown it can be an impactful and timely solution to the issue of social isolation and loneliness in the elderly. But we need the public’s help to increase its reach and make a real difference in the lives of individuals living throughout South London.”

For more information on CareDogs, the befriending service and the charity’s crowdfunding campaign, please visit: caredogs.org.uk

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