This year, the Dogs Trust ‘Hope Project’ will be delivering over 1,500 hampers to those in need across the UK. Almost 200 dog owners across Greater London will receive the hampers, which are filled with treats, toys, collars, leads and warm winter dog coats.
The charity has been running this project for 25 years, and in that time has helped pet owners in housing crises with free vet care, supported hostels in welcoming dogs and delivered festive hampers containing essential canine items.
Between 5% and 25% of those who are homeless are dog owners and this year, there has been a 77% increase in the number of new rough sleepers in London, according to the charity.
St Mungo’s are one of the few accommodation providers that will welcome dogs at many of their services across London and the South.
Dogs Trust and St Mungo’s have been working together for over two decades, ensuring that “owning a dog is not a barrier to accessing accommodation”.
As part of the national effort to accommodate rough sleepers in order to enable them to self-isolate, the team are now working with hotels and emergency accommodation providers to support them in accepting and managing dogs so that people can stay united with their pet.
In addition, it has sent out more than 1,200 tins of emergency dog food to support people and their pets during this pandemic.
Harriet Page, pets and housing manager at Dogs Trust, said: “For anyone experiencing any sort of housing crisis, their dog will often be their only companion and source of love and support. Sadly, the number of people sleeping rough or experiencing other types of homelessness has continued to rise and has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“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.”
She added: “We’re so grateful for services like St Mungo’s who welcome dogs into many of their hostels in the South – ensuring that no dog owner has to choose between staying with their dog or accessing accommodation.”
David Fisher, executive director of Services at St Mungo’s, said: “We are very grateful for the support that Dogs Trust has provided to us and our clients over the many years, through their Hope Project.
“St Mungo’s recognises the truly powerful and emotional support that dogs can bring to someone who is sleeping rough, and that is why we reduce barriers for people moving away from the streets by having a number of services which welcome pets.”