CareDogs, the South London-based charity, has launched a befriending service this Spring after a successful pilot last year.

The volunteer-run dog charity operates within the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Croydon, Bromley and Lewisham. They aim to solve social isolation in the elderly through a range of services centred around the positive impact dogs can have on our lives.

With the launch of their new service, CareDogs is welcoming volunteers and their beloved pet dogs to befriend an older person in need. Whether they’re housebound, living with dementia or going through bereavement, CareDogs is giving dog owners an opportunity to do good by making bespoke pairings between volunteers and clients. The simple aim is to encourage human connection through canine companionship. 

The ideal vision for the charity is to foster communities where no older person or senior dog is overlooked or left behind. 

The charity intends to work towards its goal in three ways:

  1. Facilitating dog adoption.
  2. Offering weekly interaction and exercise with one of our dog-walking volunteers.
  3. Integrating our clients into local community events and a friendly support network.

As a nation of dog-lovers, the pilot project has already made a huge impact for the six volunteer pairings taking part, helping to build confidence and new friendships. 

Colin, 80 from Bromley, was one of those to benefit from the charity’s pilot befriending service. Speaking about the difference it had made, he said:

“I used to drive everywhere before, but meeting Fiona and Ellie every week has been so good for me, to have a walk and a talk. I was lost after my wife Jo died unexpectedly last year… Having these walks every week have helped me regain structure – and I remember my love of walking! I now walk a lot more and feel so much better for it.”

The service is particularly timely after the impact of Covid-19 resulted in almost one-in-five elderly people feeling less confident to leave the house by themselves, as well as increasing levels of depression and anxiety in the over-70s. However, in contrast, more than 85% of dog owners stated their pets had a positive effect on their wellbeing during the pandemic – something CareDogs are keen to replicate with their latest service.

Delphine Chui, founder and CEO of CareDogs, said:

“Our befriending service has already shown it can be an impactful and timely solution to the issue of social isolation and loneliness in the elderly. But we need the public’s help to increase its reach and make a real difference in the lives of individuals living throughout South London.”

Find out more about CareDogs here.

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Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding marginalised groups, identity and culture.

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