Headway Suffolk

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Brainy Dogs awarded £350,000 of National Lottery funding

Headway Suffolk has been awarded £350,000 of National Lottery funding to train rescue dogs to provide life-changing support to adults living with neurological conditions. The project will also help ex-offenders and young people who struggle at school to gain new skills by training the dogs.

Living with a neurological condition can leave people feeling isolated from their friends and families. The ‘Brainy Dogs’ project gives people the chance to take home a furry four-legged friend who can offer companionship, helping to support their rehabilitation.

The project is also helping teenagers and adults whose lives have been affected by mental ill-health, exclusion from education and criminal behaviour to gain work experience and learn new skills by training these rescue dogs. Headway Suffolk is just one of 15 community projects across the county which have received National Lottery funding this quarter.

The funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity across the UK, will enable the project to increase the number of people who train the dogs. With the aim of providing 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.

Headway Suffolk will expand their service by working with a number of organisations to encourage social engagement within communities. Raedwald Trust – an education provider for teenagers who have been excluded from mainstream education – carried out a pilot and are now keen to join the scheme longer term.

Organisations which support individuals on probation, those living with mental health issues, young people who struggle at school and veterans will be supported through the programme and could significantly benefit from training the dogs.

Brainy Dogs will not only enable individuals to gain work experience and transferable skills which can be used when seeking employment but it will also increase people’s confidence. In addition to this, individuals living with a neurological condition often struggle to communicate and lack motivation. Therefore, they are generally reluctant to engage in other activities but in fact are extremely keen to interact with the dogs.

Helen Fairweather, Chief Executive at Headway Suffolk, said: “We are delighted to receive National Lottery funding for Brainy Dogs. The love of a dog helps to replace the many aspects of people’s lives that they lose through brain injury, such as friendship, a reason to get up, and a responsibility. The new project will not only help those living with a neurological condition but also prisoners, probationers, teenagers excluded from school, veterans and people living with mental health issues who will be helping us to train the dogs.”

James Harcourt, England Grant-Making Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, communities large and small are able to get the funding they need to bring their great ideas to life. Every time someone buys a National Lottery ticket it raises vital funds that help make a difference to hundreds of people’s lives. We’re delighted to be able to support projects like Headway Suffolk which is a fantastic example of people coming together to use their ambitions and aspirations to create something wonderful for their local community.”

The Eastern region as whole has received over £4.6 million of National Lottery funding. See the full list of projects HERE.

To find out more visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk.