Today is University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day, the perfect opportunity to introduce here on the blog one of our new one-off project, which proved very successful in improving students’ wellbeing: Dogs Trust Kenilworth. Jenny, who organises this project, is telling us more about one of their sessions.
This year Warwick Volunteers; the University of Warwick’s volunteering department, and Dogs Trust have been working together to organise volunteering days for student volunteers. Dogs Trust are the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and care for over 17,000 dogs each year through their network of 20 rehoming centres in the UK – and one in Dublin. Dogs Trust Kenilworth is the largest of their centres and cares for as many as 180 dogs at any one time.
The volunteering day started with a Health and Safety briefing and dog handling training from the brilliant Marie and Rachel. We learnt about dogs’ body language and how to spot signs that a dog is nervous: ears pinned back, yawning, licking lips, and tail between legs. We then filled our pockets with treats and took the dogs for a walk. Some dogs were a little bit nervous of us at first but others were very excitable! Once we were in the walking area they soon relaxed and enjoyed the walk, sniffing around and getting fussed. Lots of our student volunteers have pets at home and they were really missing them while at university so it was great for them to spend time with the dogs.
Here’s what Nicole one of the student volunteers had to say about the experience:
“The dog trust day is wonderful! For someone like me who couldn’t have a dog at home, it’s such a great opportunity to spend time with dogs. If you don’t have any experience with having a dog, they will guide you how to read dog’s body language, which is very helpful for me! The experience is great, they are welcoming and you can meet so many different dogs and just being with them makes you happy, like magic! A way to help you release so much from the stressful postgraduate life. “
This is a great opportunity for all involved. The dogs waiting to be rehomed get some extra love and attention and volunteers get to spend the day helping a local charity and having an enjoyable time. We can’t wait for the next volunteer day!
We’d like to thank the staff at the centre for all of their time and support.
What have students enjoyed the most about the project? How has is impacted their general wellbeing?
“Meeting people of all sorts of background that are studying different courses who loves animals as much as I do.
“I think I got a lot of exercise! Haha. Serious: It reminded me of my dog at home.
“I feel a lot happier.
“Great to be outside for the day and good to spend time helping others. Will sleep very well tonight!
There will be more sessions with Dogs Trust Kenilworth coming in Term 3. Sign-up to the one-off mailing list and we’ll let you know when they are taking place! Visit www.warwick.ac.uk/oneoff