Brainy Dogs is a project run by Headway Suffolk that takes rescue dogs who are then trained by volunteers from different sectors: teenagers and adults affected by mental ill-health, veterans, children unable to attend mainstream education, prisoners and probation; to become companion dogs to people with a brain injury or neurological condition.
Brainy Dogs is a National Lottery funded project run by Headway Suffolk, that takes rescue dogs who are then trained by volunteers from different sectors: teenagers and adults affected by mental ill-health, veterans, children unable to attend mainstream education, prisoners and probation; to become companion dogs to people with a brain injury or neurological condition.
Trainers gain work experience and learn life skills by training rescue dogs to provide life-changing support as companion dogs.
Through the project, not only have these volunteers been given vocational training, but more than 70 dogs have been given a new start in life, providing much-needed companionship to people who, due to brain injury or neurological condition, may have experienced a personality change which has impacted their relationship with friends and family.
In addition, there are rehab dogs that provide rehabilitation activities to meet individual needs. The project’s ambition is to improve people’s quality of life and provide a sustainable, growing and flexible service.
They were awarded £350,000 in 2018 to run the project, which enabled them to increase the number of people who train the dogs and give 1-1 visits with their rehab dogs.
I feel Brainy Dogs has been such a success because of its originality, diversity and flexibility. If there is a way the dogs can help someone, we try our hardest to make it happen. The dogs calm clients in a way humans cannot. They do not judge and for many people, this is a rare feeling. We have been told that the dogs are a lifeline and that they have stopped a couple of clients from ending their lives. They get people out into social networks, give them a sense of normality and something in common with others.
Brainy Dogs Coordinator Sophie Wellum-Mayes
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