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April is National Pet Month – an opportunity to celebrate the many benefits of pet ownership to highlight and raise awareness of their role as companions.
At Framework we always aim to be inclusive in the support we offer to people experiencing homelessness. We recognise that people who have pets, specifically dogs, and are street homeless, are often at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing housing.
As a result we have been working with Dogs Trust to enable people at our Lincolnshire services to enjoy the mental wellbeing, physical health and improved recovery that the companionship of a dog can make possible.
Mark and Reenie
Research by Dogs Trust shows that “80% of homelessness service staff members in the UK have experienced barriers for their clients accessing support around their housing because they had a dog”. They also found that a similar percentage of staff at homelessness services across the country have worked with dog owners who have refused an offer of temporary or emergency accommodation because it meant giving up their dog.
This demonstrates that, sadly, dog ownership can still be a huge barrier for homeless people in accessing support services, most of which still operate strict no pets policies.
This data comes from a survey of staff in homelessness services conducted by Dogs Trust in 2022. For more information click here.
Wendy Miller, Pets and Housing Regional Engagement Coordinator at Dogs Trust said:
“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 housing providers, including Framework, to successfully offer dog-friendly accommodation.
“It has been brilliant working with our friends at Framework in Lincolnshire, supporting their services to become dog-friendly, ensuring dog owners in the area are able to access temporary accommodation when they need it most.
“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.”
Framework’s services in Lincolnshire decided to work with the Hope Project at Dogs Trust to ensure that when we allowed dogs into our services it was with due care and attention to both the owner and the animal.
Dane and Cayde
Louise Hart, a Service Manager across some of Framework’s Lincolnshire services, who was responsible for this initiative with Dogs Trust, emphasises the important role pet ownership plays in all our lives, and especially those facing homelessness:
“The Framework Lincolnshire staff are animal lovers and felt that if they had to choose between a family member, as many pets are, and housing, it would be a devastating choice to make.
“Framework recognises that looking after an animal is a life skill and a transferable skill. It shows dedication, responsibility and care. These are all skills that should be encouraged and supported.”
Allowing dogs into the service, for both staff and service users, has been extremely successful. It has fostered a friendly, caring atmosphere and has often helped to disarm people’s preconceptions of a homelessness service. It has supported the mental health and wellbeing of all, is a conversation starter, and a way to build rapport with people.
Ashley and Chase
The stories in the following video demonstrate the value of the partnership between Framework and Dogs Trust, and its impact on the people we support.
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