Here at Paws for Progress, we have a LOT of exciting news to share… Read on to find out more about latest developments at Paws for Progress, the benefits of Human Animal Interactions, and ways in which you can get involved!
Interested in joining the Paws team?
There is currently a unique opportunity to join our staff team through the rewarding role of Community Officer, generously funded for the coming 3 years by BBC Children In Need.
Over the next three years, this funding will allow Paws for Progress to employ a full-time Community Officer to deliver Unleashing Potential, a project matching trained dogs with young people who often find social situations challenging. Building on the success of a
pilot programme launched last year, the group will engage under 18s with additional support needs (including those with ADHD, dyspraxia and autism), in positive activities with dogs to enhance social contact, improve communication skills and increase engagement with education.
At the project, participants learn about dog behaviour, care and positive reinforcement training. Each session includes a mix of theory and practice, and in addition to working individually with their dogs, youngsters will have a chance to work in groups with their peers, all of which creates multiple opportunities for learning. The service is also youth-led, which means that that the project is constantly learning from its participants and responding to their individual needs. Young people benefit from an improved attitude toward education and a real boost to their confidence.
Speaking of the new funding Rebecca Leonardi, the Development Manager at Paws for Progress, said: “Many of the young people who come to our project have additional behavioural, emotional or social needs and this can affect how they interact in different environments. In some cases, even engaging in education can be challenging. At Paws for Progress we feel passionate about the benefits of human – animal interaction. You can clearly see the change in our young people when they come into contact with the dogs – they become more relaxed, happier and therefore receptive to new experiences. With this funding from BBC Children in Need we can work to reach even more young people, making a positive difference to their lives.”
Our community services for children and young people have been hugely successful and we are delighted to be able to delegate a full-time member of staff to continue this excellent work.
The application deadline is this Friday (26th August), find out more and apply online here.
Our good friends at Dogs for Good are also recruiting in Scotland!
Find out more about Human Animal Interactions at our conference
Following our very successful debut conference in 2015, we have listened to feedback and worked to further build upon your areas of interest to provide another inspiring and enjoyable conference this Autumn.
“Huge thanks for an exceptionally fascinating, enjoyable & often moving conference.”
“This was genuinely the best conference I have ever attended, so inspiring.”
We invite you to join us on the 14th and 15th October 2016 at the Stirling Court Hotel to explore how interacting with animals can be beneficial for enhancing learning and health, and to find out about the excellent and innovative services provided across the UK.
There will be plenty of opportunities to network, and also the prospect of sharing your own work through table displays and / or a poster display outlining your own research in this area.
We recommend that anyone who is interested, either on a professional or personal level, in learning about the health, social, educational or rehabilitative benefits growing from human animal interactions would benefit from attending.
We will also be exploring key considerations for designing and evaluating HAI services, and providing some fun and interactive demonstrations for some added inspiration!
Pioneering services for women in custody
This year we have been busy piloting and developing services for women in custody, an exciting new area of work for us which is going extremely well.
Following on from the success of Paws at HM YOI Polmont, there has been great interest in our services from women in custody. Our user led approach is ideal for targeting their unique and often complex needs.Since early 2016 we have been engaging with young women and adults across the establishment, including some of the most vulnerable women in the mental health unit.
We provide a structured course about dog training and care, facilitating enjoyable activities with dogs. The service aims to enhance mood of participants, enrich social skills and relationships with staff / peers, develop an understanding of dogs and animal care and help participants engage positively in education. Our students also develop skills relevant for employment and grow in confidence, impacting their well-being positively.
We also provide drop in weekly sessions within the mental health unit, providing opportunities to interact positively with our team of trained dogs, in an animal assisted activity programme. These sessions have maximum flexibility and are responsive to the women’s interests and needs on each individual visit.
We initially piloted the service with young women at HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, providing a short programme that facilitated enjoyable activities with the Paws for Progress team of trained dogs. The students taking part enjoyed the positive and supportive environment created through interacting with the dogs, having the opportunity to learn about dog training and care whilst developing their own skills.
In response to the enthusiastic feedback we received from our students, we have now widened the course to make it available to women across the institution, and extended the opportunities available to women attending the structured course. Both the structured course and the drop in service have continued to enjoy great success with both the students and dogs responding very positively to the opportunities and very much enjoying working together.
Here is some of the wonderful feedback we have received so far:
“The animals keep me calm and focused.”
“Having the dogs here cheers everyone up!”
“I think it’s been really beneficial, it’s something really good and different for the block. It gives us something positive to do…”
“It’s good for your mental health too, being with the dogs.”
“It means such a lot to us, having an opportunity to be with the dogs.”
“It’s been fantastic, it’s been amazing.”
“It’s really helped my confidence, and helped me feel able to engage with other services too.” Paws Participants, HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, 2016
“Paws for Progress provide HMP and YOI Cornton Vale with an excellent and flexible service. Interacting with the dogs and Paws for Progress staff became hugely important to the women. There were obvious and direct benefits to the women participating in the programmes. They increased their social interactions with each other and with staff. Their self-confidence increased as did their patience, and most importantly it gave them something to look forward to and treasure. Paws for Progress has been a great success within the prison and is a service that clearly has a very positive impact on all who use it.”
SPS Residential Unit Manager, HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, 2016.
Below is an example of the lovely written work that the students have chosen to complete outside of the practical sessions, a tribute to how dedicated and enthusiastic they are about the service.
We look forward to providing more updates as these services for women develop further.
Play a valuable role in our successful fundraising campaign!
We need your help to support dogs taking part in our prison based rescue dog training programme. We’re currently working with many fantastic dog rescue organisations, supporting one another to help to prepare the dogs for being successfully rehomed.
You can have a direct and valuable impact by donating to help towards the costs of providing our services, that we can then use to contribute towards the costs of kennelling fees for the fantastic rescues we are working with.
The easiest way of doing this is through Local Giving, where you can give a one off or monthly donation. A £10 monthly donation significantly contributes towards the costs of one dog taking part for 2 days of the course.
We would also love to see you in person at our fundraising events! We’re currently planning several seasonal quiz nights in both Stirling and Edinburgh, beginning with a Halloween themed quiz this October. More details coming soon.
Your next chance to join us will be on the 2nd September, where we will be pitching at Stirling Soup alongside 5 other innovative local organisations. You, the audience, will choose which organisation will be taking home the pot of donations! It would be great to see you there for this fun and friendly evening.
Thank you so much for your support, we are delighted that thanks to our dedicated supporters we have raised more than £3,500 through fundraising this year which has all gone towards providing our tailored Human Animal Interaction services, what a fantastic figure to have raised so far!
That’s all from us for now, we’ll be keeping you updated through social media over the coming months and look forward to sharing a winter warmer full of our latest good news (and more exciting new developments) later this year!