A blog written by Delphine Chui, Founder of CareDogs
The team at CareDogs want to see a future where older people feel less isolated and lonely.
How do we plan on doing this? By encouraging better community connections and companionship with the help of dogs!
It’s already known that mental health studies encourage physical activity to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, but did you know that research has also shown that interacting with pets can benefit our overall wellbeing?
According to science, stroking a dog causes a chemical reaction that releases happy hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. See! It’s literally been proven that being around a furry friend is an instant mood booster.
We know dog ownership isn’t possible for everyone which is why we provide a local befriending scheme which pairs up volunteers and their dogs with older people in their local area, to connect over a walk and talk.
Applying for TFL’s ‘Walking and Cycling Grants London’ was a no-brainer as we love the idea of alleviating loneliness through outdoor socialising. Research shows that physical activity can improve self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reduce the risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. And considering that social isolation and loneliness are associated with higher rates of mortality, depression and cognitive decline among the older population, the CareDogs solution is so needed.
Dogs, after all, are a great way to encourage people to get out and exercise. Plus, they’re a great icebreaker when it comes to conversation which is a massive bonus for a befriending service.
As our Founder, Delphine, who adopted her rescue dog Nola has realised, dog walkers are constantly socially connected. Canine companionship is bringing communities back together.
Today, we are currently in our first year of our WCGL grant and what a difference it’s made already! We were able to hire Kate for our first paid role, a 1-day a week Charity Coordinator who is helping to streamline our processes, manage our generous and lovely operational volunteers and connect more clients, volunteers and their dogs together. She’s been such a blessing to our charity!
We’re now working on targeted area recruitment to make sure we have furry friends and their humans across the five south London boroughs we currently look after and have made a WhatsApp group for our volunteers.
We also invested in a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) system to safely store all our client details and have a one-stop shop for all our logs and forms.
Although our service is aimed at older people, we’re always happy to see how our volunteers are beneficiaries too, meeting new people in their neighbourhood and walking their dog with a new friend.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from our service, please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always on the look out for volunteers - whether you’re a dog owner looking to volunteer your time to visit an older person, or have skills you’d like to share with a growing start-up charity. Get in touch at email@example.com