Pet project secures £10,000 Lottery support towards launch
Overcoming the loss of two beloved horses followed by the death of her father inspired a former palliative care nurse to put plans for a new kind of support service into action.
Alison Samuels, who during her career comforted hundreds of people grieving for family members, was concerned that the impact of a pet's death upon some individuals could be sometimes overlooked.
After two years in the minute planning, Ms Samuels, who is also a trained counsellor, has secured £10,000 in Lottery funding to launch a support programme she has developed, called ALLY.
As a social enterprise, it will train workers and volunteers who in their work reach out to vulnerable individuals such as the homeless and elderly. It will equip them with the training they need to support clients through the grieving process for their pet.
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An initial 20 places will be fully funded for applicants who meet certain criteria, when the inaugural training course is launched in May. It has been accredited by Open College Network South West Region.
Once the venture is up and running, the social enterprise's commercial arm will cover the cost of perpetuating the delivery of the community- focused training.
Through this commercial side of her venture, Ms Samuels aims for vets practices and other professional service providers to pay ALLY for the cost of training a staff member to deliver the bespoke support service, the brand name of which is protected by intellectual copyright.
She believes the service will enhance the offering at veterinary surgeries, pet shops or animal cemeteries, with a trained adviser on hand to comfort bereaved pet owners as they grieve for their loss.
The scheme could also open up opportunities for the older unemployed or those such as retired nurses who are seeking a new chapter in their lives. Once trained and registered, these people could offer their support to a business, health commission or community agency on a freelance basis.
Ms Samuels, from Penzance, said: "The loss of a beloved pet can be devastating and the consequences of this loss, if not fully acknowledged, may affect one's health and wellbeing.
"Our aim is to support people at this difficult time. This will hopefully prevent people from falling through the net, compromising their physical and mental health."
DuchyVets in Redruth, Hayle and Penryn, and Mounts Bay Veterinary Practice in Penzance are currently piloting the scheme.
Further details can be found at www.allyforall.com