So much Pawsitive news to share!

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!

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Interested in joining the Paws team?

DSCN3164There 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.

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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.

DSCN2990At 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.  DSCN3162

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.”

DSCN3040Our 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.

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The application deadline is this Friday (26th August), find out more and apply online here.

 

 

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Our good friends at Dogs for Good are also recruiting in Scotland!

Follow the links to find our more about the roles of Assistance Dog Instructor or Project Manager.

 

 

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.

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“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.

VHAI event.JPGWe 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!

Don’t miss out on our discounted early bird tickets, available until the 31st August at the online shop. More information available on our event page.

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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.DSCN3093

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.13090353_10154032180071405_1116603273_n

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, 2016bonbon

“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.

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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.

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Lacey from Staffie Smiles Rescue, seeking a new home.

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.

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Charlie from The Underheugh Ark,  seeking a new home.

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!

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October update (meet our K9 supporters!)

Welcome to the Paws for Progress October update!

We’ll soon have a full seasonal update for you, but in the meantime we would like to fill you in with our latest news…

Paws at HM YOI Polmont

We have now begun our 3rd cycle of the course this year, which means that our human and canine students will soon be making one another’s acquaintance, building unique partnerships and developing valuable skills. We look forward to keeping you updated on how they’re all getting on. Here are a few sneak peeks of some of the dogs who will be taking part….

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Paws in the community

Our new community services for children and young people have really taken off over the last few months. Check out our new webpage here to find out more.

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Fundraising / how you can get involved

We’ve been very fortunate to have lots of supporters getting in touch asking how they can get involved and help Paws for Progress. As a response to this we have now put together a new webpage detailing several different ways in which you can get involved and support us further. Please click here to view the page.

We’d particularly like to draw your attention to our current fundraising campaign through Local Giving, where you can now make donations online to support Paws for Progress, helping to improve the lives of people and animals in need. Any help donating or spreading the word about this campaign would be hugely appreciated. We’re raising money to contribute to the costs of having rescue dogs on our Polmont course, so any proceeds will be well spent.

Paws K9 Supporters

A huge thank you to everyone who has sent in photographs of their lovely dogs wearing Paws bandanas, we love receiving them! We hope you enjoy meeting some of our Paws K9 supporters in the slideshow below, and please be sure to keep the photos coming 🙂

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That’s all for now folks, thank you as always for being wonderful supporters and we look forward to giving you a more in-depth update soon!

Unleashing Potential

Summer Update 2015

Paws circle logo We’re delighted to have the opportunity to update you on recent developments at Paws for Progress. It has been a busy and productive year so far, and we have lots to share about the Human Animal Interaction and training programmes that we provide for people and animals who need our support.

Unleash potential Our prison based rescue dog training programme has gone from strength to strength, and thanks to the Big Lottery Young Start Fund and Comic Relief we were able to increase our staff team this year. We’re also delivering new projects for young people in the community and expanding our services to new contexts. In July we hosted the first of a series of Paws for Progress events, a dog training seminar and we look forward to hosting our first two day event The Value of Human Animal Interactions on the 18th and 19th of September 2015.

Paws for Progress – Unleashing Potential: Developments

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We continue to be extremely grateful to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) for the excellent support provided to our rescue dog training programme at HM YOI Polmont. In addition to providing a full-time member of prison staff for the cou rse the SPS have also fully refurbished our training area. We welcomed our students back to our new purpose built facilities in April, and the 2nd cycle of 2015 is now underway.

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Outcomes for both the people and dogs involved in our project continue to be very positive, and our excellent partnerships with Fife College and the University of Stirling continue to prove invaluable.

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Thank you also to The Clothworkers’ Foundation and Foundation Scotland for their generous funding of our new vehicle, enabling us to transport rescue dogs to and from the project at Polmont.

We are ever grateful to our generous funders such as The Robertson Trust who provide us with the resources to maintain and enhance our existing projects and to develop new initiatives.

New initiatives in Scottish prisons

We are keen to continue our excellent partnership with the Scottish Prison Service and extend our services to priority groups in custody throughout Scotland. Our user led and outcome focussed approach to the development of human animal interaction programmes mean that there is great interest in the ways in which our services can address the issues faced by ex-offenders, whilst also providing mutual benefits to the community.We are therefore in the exploratory stage of multiple new developments and look forward to updating our supporters with more details later this year.

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Following the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now developing and delivering services in the community. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, working with school and community groups, providing valuable opportunities for engagement with services through positive Human Animal Interactions.

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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 12-17 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 results and response to the course have been extremely positive.

I feel AMAZING each day when I leave

Student, Paws at Barnardo’s, 2015

In our community projects, we involve our team of trained staff dogs who enjoy interacting with young people. The students learn about dog behaviour, care and positive reinforcement training, and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs, including agility.

He has grown in confidence, developed peer relationships and more trust in adults as well as developing skills required for group work

Support worker, Paws at Barnardos, 2015.

Following the success of our pilot project with Barnardo’s Scotland we look forward to continuing to provide services for young people in the community, with several new developments due to begin this Autumn – more details coming soon.

Development Summary

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As you can see, Paws for Progress is taking a preventative approach with young people in the community in addition to a rehabilitative approach within custodial settings, and retains a strong focus on enabling the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the community. Our initiatives are designed to be mutually beneficial, providing direct benefits to participating dogs and providing valuable education to increase understanding and improve the care provided to dogs, thereby having a significant impact on the welfare of many more dogs in the UK. Our programmes also provide considerable benefits to society, by engaging our participants in charitable activities which encourage pro-social identities, unleashing the potential of young people and ex-offenders to contribute positively to their communities.

Events & Fundraising

Seminars

Thank you to all of our speakers and guests who attended our July seminar last month, it was an excellent evening and going forward, we will be holding several seminars a year on a variety of topics, with a focus on Human Animal Interactions (HAI). Keep an eye on our seminar page here as well as our Facebook page for details about upcoming seminars.  

The Value of Human Animal Interactions

We are thrilled to be hosting a two day event focusing on “The Value of Human Animal Interactions” on the 18th and 19th of September. This is a brilliant opportunity for practitioners and those interested in Human Animal Interactions (HAI) to connect with experts in the field, share knowledge and advance their professional development by taking part in interactive workshops and attending talks from a range of excellent speakers. See our events page for more details, including early bird rates (available until 14th August so book soon!).

Paws Merchandise

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We recently launched our new merchandise range with the sale of Paws for Progress bandanas for dogs, which have been going down well with our canine friends. If you would like to purchase a bandana then please email us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk

Amazon Wish List

We are particularly grateful to the wonderful supporters who have donated hundreds of pounds worth of items from our Amazon Wish List. We were blown away by the amazing response following our appeals for treats, toys, harnesses and educational books for our courses.Thank you for your generous donations; we hope our supporters will continue to help us by visiting our Amazon Wish List and providing valuable resources for our students.

Caledonian Challenge

Our thanks to our supporters who raised £300 earlier this year volunteering as marshals at the Caledonian Challenge. This is an annual event held in June to raises money for Foundation Scotland, providing smaller businesses with funding and support.

If you would like to help Paws for Progress fundraise then please do get in touch with your ideas and get involved – see ‘Contact us‘ for details.

Education & Research

Stirling Human Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre

We are proud to be working closely with the University of Stirling as they move forward with several exciting developments in Human Animal Interactions. From September onwards the University is launching a new taught Postgraduate course, the MSc in “Human Animal Interaction”. Details for this unique course are available on the University website. The new MSc will coincide with the development of the Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre, to be launched later this year. We are thrilled to be continuing our excellent partnership with the University and supporting these exciting new endeavours.

Research and Evaluation

Rebecca Leonardi, our Founding Director, has been collecting and analysing data from the Paws at Polmont course over a three year period. She is now at the final stages of writing up her PhD thesis which is titled “Paws for Progress: The development and evaluation of a prison based dog training programme”. We are looking forward to sharing the results with our partners, funders and supporters over the next few months at stakeholder meetings and our events. This research has particular value as it provides the first evidence of the effectiveness of HAI Interventions in custodial settings in the UK. With the support of the University of Stirling we will continue to monitor all of our services to ensure they are effective and meet the needs of our participants, remaining outcome focussed in our service development.

Further updates

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We were honoured to welcome the Earl of Wessex to our dog training course during his recent visit to HM YOI Polmont. It was a fantastic opportunity for our students to share their experiences working with the rescue dogs, and we feel privileged to have had such a distinguished visitor take an interest in the work that we do. During the visit to our facilities he met the young men who are taking part in the current programme and observed a training display with the dogs. The visit was a great success and we are very grateful to the Earl for his interest and time.

Thank you to our partners, supporters and funders

As ever we are very thankful for the many individuals and organisations that support our work, including the range of guest speakers who visit Paws at Polmont and the many organisations that provide work experience and volunteering. We would also like to thank all of those organisations who have provided funding to us; without you we could not carry out the crucial work that we do (see here for a list of our funders, partners and supporting organisations).

Our thanks to all our supporters for helping us achieve our aims; enhancing the wellbeing of people and animals, and promoting and supporting positive human animal interactions.

With best wishes from all the team at Paws for Progress – we look forward to updating you further soon.

Exciting times…

We have been busy as ever over the summer months and have even more great news to share from Paws for Progress!

Firstly, we are very pleased to announce our successful grant awarded from the Big Lottery Scotland: Young Start Fund. This grant is vital to ensuring our project at HM YOI Polmont continues to operate successfully, by funding the post of our Course Instructor. When announcing the grants awarded, Chair of Big Lottery Fund Scotland, Maureen McGinn, said: “Young Start helps ensuyoungstartre that Scotland’s next generation has the best possible start in life”; we share this ambition and look forward to reporting more success in achieving this as the project continues.

 

Thanks to the Volunteering Support Grant provided by the Voluntary Action Fund, we have also now recruited for the post of Support Officer for the Paws for Progress team. Our Support Officer will provide additional support to young men volunteering in the community, ensuring their skills are VAF LOGO put to good use and assisting the students to use the skills, learning and qualifications they gain from volunteering post release to effectively demonstrate their “work readiness”.

 

Two of our Directors at Paws for Progress CIC are also helping raise funds for Paws For Progress by running in sponsored events. Please help support their great efforts by following the links below to their sponsorship pages:

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Gary Waddell – Great North Run – 7th Sept

 

Tracey McLennan – Great Scottish Run Half Marathon – 5th Oct

 

 

We are very grateful to all our partners, funders and supporters for the help they provide, ensuring we can continue to deliver our services and improve the outcomes of the young people and dogs involved. Please see our ‘About’ section for further details.

We are also thrilled to be working alongside the University of Stirling to develop the new and exciting Stirling Human-Animal Interaction Research (SHAIR) Centre. Our partnership with SHAIR will ensure rigorous evaluations are built into all new developments, whilst also expanding our knowledge and understanding in the field of Human-Animal Interactions (HAI). In addition, a new postgraduate course will be developed in Psychology at the University of Stirling, complimenting the range of taught MSc / postgraduate diploma courses which provide training for a research career or for professional development. This exciting new development means that from 2015, the MSc in Human Animal Interactions will be available at the University of Stirling. Please contact the Psychology Office at the University of Stirling for more information.

Thank you for your interest and support; we look forward to sharing more news soon.

Paws for Progress CIC

Enhancing the well-being of people and animals

Promoting and supporting positive human-animal interactions

2014 – a great year for Paws for Progress!

The first prison based dog training programme in the UK, Paws for Progress was introduced to HM YOI Polmont in August 2011, and continues to operate successfully as we approach our third anniversary. We have been working hard to ensure the project is sustainable in the long term and are very pleased to announce that Paws for Progress was registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in February 2014 (see ‘About us: Paws for Progress CIC’).  We are very grateful to our project partnersfunders and supporters who continue to provide excellent support throughout the course delivery and project development (see ‘Our partners, funders and supporters’ for more information) which enables us to continue to improve the outcomes of the young people and dogs who are involved.

Latest reviews of our progress

We have now completed eleven cycles of the course at HM YOI Polmont, and the response is hugely positive. Overall, there have now been 66 young men who have taken part in Paws for Progress; over 80% of these continued to support us post-graduation as peer mentors and volunteer assistants, demonstrating their high commitment. Rebecca Leonardi (who instigated the project) is researching the efficacy of Paws for Progress in delivering the intended outcomes (as the focus of her PhD) and it will therefore be subject to a comprehensive review, due to be completed by the end of the year.

More good news!

In the meantime, we are delighted to report some of the headline results and initial findings e.g. in the last year (as of May 2014):

– 30 young men completed the 8-week dog training course

– Almost 300 SQA qualifications gained in core skills such as reading, writing, calculation and measuring

 – 100% of participants felt the course had helped them, and that it had a positive effect on their understanding of dogs too  

 – 21 dogs gained APDT Good Companion Awards

 – 55 dogs successfully re-homed

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Fife College

Feedback from the young men involved in the pilot project has been extremely positive, with participants feeling more confident about their communication skills, problem solving abilities, patience and management of emotions as they progress through the course. The young men feel a real sense of accomplishment, gained from the achievement of targets and goals, and from seeing the improvements in the dogs they work with (see examples below).Over 75% of our graduates have also continued to engage with us following their release, allowing us to continue to provide support and facilitate volunteering opportunities.

Student feedback

Student feedbackLearning together

 

Happily rehomed

 The dogs participating in Paws for Progress have continued to respond very positively to the training they receive. Overall, 111 dogs have now been successfully rehomed, and 48 APDT Good Companion Awards gained. The students work very hard under the guidance of  Paws for Progress staff to ensure the dogs’ continuously progress.

Whilst the full evaluation of the dog outcomes is ongoing, the initial findings are very positive, demonstrating improvements to behaviour across training tasks. The dogs’ improved behaviour and sociability also increases their appeal to adopters, and the extra promotion the students’ work provides can help these great dogs find the loving homes they so deserve.

Happily rehomed

Events

Following on from the successful Paws for Progress Event at HM YOI Polmont last year, we will be taking part in a number of conferences and events during 2014 to showcase our work and share information with supporters and stakeholders. This includes attending the IAHIAO Symposium 2014, where we will engage in important discussions to share perspectives, practices and knowledge in Human Animal Interactions (HAI).

Paws for Progress CIC is based within the University of Stirling, who are supporting the development alongside the new and exciting Stirling Human Animal Interactions Research (SHAIR) Centre. We will host a HAI Workshop at the University of Stirling later this year, and will provide you with more details soon.

Paws for Progress continues to receive widespread interest and support and we are thrilled that this momentum continues to grow.

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Thank you to everyone who is helping us achieve our ambition to deliver positive change in the lives of both people and animals.

We look forward to sharing more news with you soon.

 

 

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“How dogs are teaching young offenders new tricks”

In case anyone missed the recent coverage of Paws for Progress in The Guardian, the link above will take you to the article, published online on Tuesday 17 September 2013. Our thanks to The Guardian and

There are lots of exciting developments happening at present, and we look forward to sharing more news with you soon. Thank you to everyone for their support of this great project.