Dog dates – campaign to tackle loneliness among older people.

It has long been recognised that dogs not only bring companionship to individuals, but they also bring people together – this can be seen in a recent campaign run by dog food manufacturer Pedigree in collaboration with the charity, ‘campaign to end loneliness’.

The ‘campaign to end loneliness’ organization state that there are 1.2 million older people in the UK who are totally alone on a daily basis and they say this isn’t just an emotional problem, but one that affects people’s health in much more profound ways.  The group claim that chronic social isolation can be as harmful as obesity or smoking and can often lead to premature death.

The initiative ‘dog dates’ seeks to address this problem and help people to feel less isolated by linking up older people with dog owners for visits and walkies – sometimes with the owner, sometimes without.

The scheme was launched in Melton Mowbray at the beginning of this year, with the intention of rolling the scheme out to a wider audience UK wide.

Elderly people who register with the scheme are linked up with dog owners, (and suitable dogs) local to them and the idea is to either walk the dogs by themselves or with the owners – either way, older people have the chance to get out of the house more often and meet new people along the way.

An added advantage is that elderly people do not need to have the full time responsibility or expense of owning a dog, yet get many of the benefits of companionship and the opportunity to get out into the community and make new friends.

You can read more about the scheme here