Happy 2 Year Anniversary!

Welcome to the first Paws for Progress CIC blogpost of 2016

 

We’re delighted that at Paws for Progress we have now reached our two year anniversary as a registered Community Interest Company! What a lot we have achieved in a short space of time. We hope that you enjoy reading about what we have been up to over the last year as we reflect on our successes, and we are also eager to share details about our new initiatives which are under development as the organisation evolves.
As always we remain hugely grateful to all of our generous funders and all the fantastic organisations who support us, and enable us to continue providing unique services to benefit children, young people and animals in need of support.

Over the last year, the organisation has continued to develop and grow in several innovative new directions. Our flagship service at HM YOI Polmont, where young offenders and rescue dogs work together towards better futures, continues to thrive and evolve, and we have some exciting news regarding the evaluation, demonstrating the positive impact that this service has.

Meanwhile, our community based services, which we started delivering in 2015, have been gaining momentum and receiving much interest. We are now working with a range of partners in the community, helping to change the lives of children and young people by engaging them in Human Animal Interaction services with our talented team of dogs. We take great pleasure in sharing our success stories so far in this spring newsletter.

Thank you all for your continued support and interest, our partners, supporters and volunteers play a hugely important role within the organisation and you really do make all the difference to the young people and animals we work with.

 

Paws at Polmont

We’d like to reflect on the excellent year we had in 2015. We had a great start to the year, with the renovation of our training area at HM YOI Polmont, the donation of new equipment for the rescue dogs and the purchase of a new vehicle for transporting the rescue dogs. Early in 2015 we also welcomed an additional member of full-time staff to the team in the new role of Training Instructor, who plays a key role supporting the dogs and students on the course.

We have also been developing fantastic relationships with a range of local dog rescue organisations, many of which are volunteer led, to help improve the behaviour and welfare of dogs in Scotland. Find out more about the dogs currently taking part in the training programme on our Facebook page.

Research evaluation

We are delighted that the evaluation of our flagship rescue dog training programme at HM YOI Polmont has now been completed! We will be disseminating the thesis more widely this year through a range of avenues including journal articles and engagement with the media.

We will be announcing which journals will be featuring articles from the evaluation on our website over the coming months, and will be able to share the full details following release of the publications. The key findings demonstrate evidence that the programme is very successful in meeting its aims, which are to:

a) improve behaviour (in the institutional environment and in the long term)

b) increase educational engagement (attitudes to learning, progress and achievements)

c) Develop employability skills (social competencies; emotional management; ability to work independently and as part of a team; responsibility and decision making; problem solving; working towards targets and goals)

d) Enhance well-being (motivation, self-efficacy and positive pro-social focus)

The comprehensive analyses of dog behaviour and welfare pre and post programme participation showed improvements in both, with effects enduring back in the shelter kennel environment. Almost all participating dogs were successfully rehomed.

You can contact us at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk to be added to our mailing list for updates regarding the publication of research focusing on our services.

 

 

Community services

“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

“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.” Student, Paws at Barnardo’s 2015.

Following on from the success of our prison based rescue dog training programme we are now providing services for children and young people (aged 8-17)  in the community, working with multiple partners including Barnardo’s Scotland and Mariner Support Service. There is great potential for our services in a preventative setting, working with school and community groups, to provide valuable opportunities for Animal Assisted Education and positive Human Animal Interactions.

The response to the services have been extremely positive, with both the young people and their support workers seeing positive change in our students’ social skills, well-being, attitude to education and belief in their own abilities.

Key to the success of our community services is our user led approach; each programme is carefully tailored to meet the unique needs of the young people taking part. We are dedicated to listening and responding to feedback from the young people and children we work with, meaning our services are constantly developing to ensure they are as effective as possible.

Our services involve a team of trained staff dogs, who all enjoy interacting with children and young people. In a mix of practical and theory work, the students learn about a range of dog focussed topics and participate in fun interactive activities with the dogs. These projects typically involve sessions one afternoon a week over 6 weeks for a group of 6-8 young people. Additionally, we provide opportunities for our students to continue engaging in our services. Find out more about our community services here.

 

Further updates

New developments

In addition to our services in the community we are in the early stages of developing a range of new prison based services to provide support and training for both female offenders and long term prisoners. We have been piloting services at HMP and YOI Cornton Vale since February, to which the response has been very positive. We have also begun delivering a series of seminar evenings at HMP Open Estate – Castle Huntly for prisoners, staff and members of the public, which we launched with a very successful Dog First Aid evening at the end of 2015.

There is huge potential for developing services which will benefit not only the service users but also dogs and members of the community. We look forward to seeing what we can achieve through expanding our partnership working with the Scottish Prison Service.

Events at Paws

In 2015 we launched our first ticketed events. In September we set the standard high at our first conference, “The Value of Human Animal Interactions“, which took place over 2 days at the University of Stirling and was kindly sponsored by Blair Drummond Safari Park.

Sign up to receive details on our events in 2016  at info@pawsforprogress.co.uk

Getting involved and  Fundraising

Our volunteers and supporters are a key part of the community we have built at Paws for Progress. If you would like to get involved in our community fundraising team or contribute in other ways then please see our supporters page here. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our fundraising for 2016 has got off to an excellent start with several excellent initiatives. This includes a hugely successful Live Music Night which was hosted by the University Of Stirling Live Music Society in March and raised £532, and a fantastic seminar evening “In Pain, Not Disobedient Nor Nasty” with guest speaker Professor Daniel Mills, which was hosted by Tynewater Dog Training and raised £1,200!

A huge thank you to all who have been involved in the wonderful fundraising events so far this year. To see what exciting fundraising events are coming up, check our events page here.

We look forward to updating you on our exciting service developments, events and other news soon. We can already tell that 2016 is going to be a great year for the organisation, and we are so grateful to all of our partners, funders and supporters who make it possible for us to continue improving the lives of more young people and animals. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up to date with our news until next time!

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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

Paws at Polmont Ghillie

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.

PFP van 1

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.

Community Projects media 004

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.

Agility

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.

 

 

Link

“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.