About Paws in the community
Following on from the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now also developing and delivering services in the community. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, and we are working with school and community groups to provide valuable opportunities for Animal Assisted Education and positive Human Animal Interactions.
“I honestly believe that if I had been involved in Paws for Progress before coming to
prison, I would not be here now.” Student, Paws at Polmont
Paws at Barnardo’s Scotland
Since May 2015 we have been working in partnership with Barnardo’s Scotland in Edinburgh to provide an innovative Human Animal Interaction programme for young people aged 8-17 with additional support needs. We work closely with the Barnardo’s Scotland team to enhance the excellent support they provide, focusing on helping the young people to improve their confidence, skills and abilities whilst engaging positively with learning. The response to the course has been extremely positive, with both the young people and their support workers seeing a huge change in our students’ social skills, well-being, attitude to education and belief in their own abilities.
We are delighted that students are eager to remain engaged with our services after completing the course, and we are therefore now running programmes for both new and returning students in addition to our new “Carer and child” programme. Our returners utilise their dog training abilities by volunteering to help new students, also working to further enhance their own skills and taking part in fundraising projects to benefit charities in the local community.
“I feel AMAZING each day when I leave” Student, Paws at Barnardo’s, 2015
Further work in the community
Following on from the success of our initial project with Barnardo’s Scotland we have developed services for multiple groups, including through our partnership with Mariner Support Service (Falkirk) where we are working in partnership to provide opportunities for young people requiring additional support. Our partnering organisations are key to the work that we do in the community, and we are very grateful for their enthusiasm and support.
Our community services are carefully tailored to meet the unique needs of the young people taking part. We are dedicated to listening and responding to feedback from the students taking part, meaning that the services are shaped around their individual needs and skills.
In our community services we involve our team of trained staff dogs who enjoy interacting with young people and bring their own unique skills and flavour to the sessions. The students learn about dog behaviour, care and positive reinforcement training and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs, including agility. Each session involves a mix of practical and theory work, creating an ideal environment for contextualising educational qualifications and awards within the course.
Community projects typically take place one afternoon a week over a period of 6 weeks, involving a group of 6-8 young people. Additionally, we also provide opportunities for our students to continue engaging in our services. Our advanced students at Barnardo’s Scotland recently completed a project designed to help others, both through mentoring younger students and through fundraising to help dogs in rescue.
The opportunity to engage with thedogs has been invaluable for our students and we are thrilled with the progress they have all made.
“I enjoyed interacting with the dogs and rewarding them because it feels like a reward to the person as well” Student, Paws at Barnardo’s, 2015
Benefits of taking part
The children and young people involved are often experiencing multiple disadvantages; our services can help develop skills and confidence across a wide range of areas. We help our students to engage in learning opportunities centred on the dogs, which can then contribute towards educational qualifications. We enable them to develop social skills and work as part of a group whilst developing confidence in their own skills, having a positive impact on their self-regard which influences many areas of their lives. They also gain something positive to share with their peers and families, impacting their lives beyond the programme. These services provide valuable education on dog care and training, thereby improving the welfare of dogs on a wider scale. It’s a win-win situation!
Monitoring and evaluation
Each service developed by Paws for Progress is carefully monitored and reviewed. As illustrated in the quotes below, the opportunity to engage through human animal interaction has been invaluable for our students.
“Having the dogs here calms everyone down… The attention is on the dogs and everyone is smiling… It makes it a good environment to be in, for the dogs and for us.”
“I LOVE it!!”
“It helps me to work together – to teach people how to work with dogs.”
“This is better than anything I have done… This group has helped me get over my fear of dogs and helped me to develop my skills in sharing and turn taking. The adults in the group have made me feel safe and listened to.”
Students, Paws at Barnardo’s 2015
If you would like to get in touch with us about our services in the community, please contact using the details provided here
Examples of the excellent posters made by our community students