Headway Suffolk’s Brainy Dogs is in the running to win an award for the best National Lottery community and charity project – and it is calling on the people of East Anglia and beyond to help make it happen!
The project, which takes rescue dogs who are then trained to become companion dogs for people with a brain injury or a neurological condition, has been shortlisted from over 700 projects into the final ten of the Community and Charity Award category in the National Lottery’s 25th Birthday Awards.
Headway Suffolk is the only group from East Anglia in the awards across all five categories.
As well as the birthday award, the winner receives £10,000 for its project and will appear on a BBC One awards show – providing immeasurable national television exposure for Brainy Dogs and Headway Suffolk as a whole.
To vote, go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/projects/view/brainy-dogs?context=vote. Twitter users can vote by simply by tweeting or retweeting the hashtag #NLABrainyDogs. Voting ends on 21 August.
Headway Suffolk chief executive Helen Fairweather said: “We are extremely proud that Brainy Dogs has got this far and we hope the public agree with us what a fantastic project it is and get behind it by voting for Brainy Dogs to win this prestigious, national award.”
Brainy Dogs takes rescue dogs who are then trained by prisoners at HMP Hollesley Bay, teenagers and adults whose lives have been affected by mental ill-health, exclusion from education and criminal behaviour, to become companion dogs to people with a brain injury or a neurological condition.
Trainers gain work experience and learn new life skills by training rescue dogs to provide life-changing support and become companion dogs.
Through the project, not only have offenders been given vocational training, more than 70 dogs have been given a new start in life, providing much-needed companionship to people who, due to a brain injury or a neurological condition, may have experienced a personality change which has impacted their relationship with friends and family.
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 was awarded £350,000 in 2018 to run Brainy Dogs, which has enabled the charity to increase the number of people who train the dogs.
Brainy Dogs coordinator Sophie Wellum-Mayes said: “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. 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.”
Headway Suffolk supports 250 adults a week with a brain injury or a neurological condition through its wide range of rehabilitation, therapy and support services.