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Rise in requests for dog-friendly Christmas hampers for homeless dog owners

DOG’S Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, will be delivering a record number of hampers to dogs in Wales whose owners are either homeless or in housing crisis this Christmas as demand for their parcel service continues to rise in the country.

Every Christmas, the charity brings some festive cheer to homeless owners and their dogs through its Hope Project, by delivering hundreds of canine hampers to those in need.

This year, more than 177 dogs across Wales are set to benefit from the service, up from 119 dogs last year – a 49% increase as Dogs Trust sees a sharp increase in the number of requests for Christmas hampers across the UK. Twenty-four hostels and homeless organisations across Wales have applied to the scheme to support people in a homelessness crisis, as the cold winter months start to set in.

The increased demand for Christmas hampers comes as homelessness in the UK continues to rise. In 2018 there were 320,000* people recorded as homeless in the UK.

Dogs Trust have been running the unique Hope Project since 1994 and delivering hampers filled with treats, toys, collars, leads and warm winter dog coats, which are particularly important to those who are rough sleeping at this time of year. The charity also supports homeless dog owners all year round by offering free veterinary treatment to dogs whose owners are homeless or in housing crisis, as well as working with housing providers across the UK to encourage more hostels and emergency shelters to become dog friendly.

Clare Kivlehan, Head of Dogs Trust Outreach Projects, explains:

“For anyone experiencing any sort of housing crisis their dog will often be their only companion and source of love and support. Sadly, numbers of people rough sleeping or experiencing other types of homelessness has continued to rise and with that, so has demand for our Christmas hampers.

“As temperatures drop, and with Christmas often being a very difficult and lonely time for many, we’re pleased to be able to distribute these hampers and be there for homeless people and their dogs not just at Christmas, but all year round.”

Hostels not accepting dogs can be a huge barrier to homeless people with dogs seeking refuge and support, so to increase the number of pet friendly hostels across the UK, the Hope Project is also launching an innovative grant scheme next year which aims to support selected hostels across the UK to begin to accept homeless people with dogs. With the help of Dogs Trust, hostels will receive a financial grant to help them prepare for canine residents.  Grants will be issued with a support package, which includes on site advice on the practical elements associated with accepting clients with dogs and adopting a dog-friendly policy.

Amy Lee Pierce at Wales’ leading homelessness and rough sleeping charity, The Wallich, said:

 “We have seen a huge increase in demand for our services over the past few years and schemes like the Hope Project, which give advice and practical support to vulnerable people are more important than ever. We all know that solving homelessness goes beyond putting a roof over someone’s head and removing barriers to accessing accommodation is at the heart of everything we do at The Wallich.  We look forward to working with Dogs Trust in 2020 and welcoming more pets and their owners through our doors.”

Since it started over 20 years ago the Hope Project has grown considerably and now operates in 112 towns and cities across the UK, working with over 339 homeless organisations and nearly 135 veterinary practices.

To find out more information visit: www.dogstrusthopeproject.org.uk

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