£24,000 grant awarded to help provide dog companions Suffolk veterans

Yvonne Fowler with Leon, Jai Cross, Sharon Ibbotson with Winston. Service Dog training in Otley PIC

Yvonne Fowler with Leon, Jai Cross, Sharon Ibbotson with Winston. Service Dog training in Otley PICTURE; CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

A £24,000 grant to provide canine companions to ex-service personnel who suffer with Post-Traumatic Stress will be 'life-changing'. 

Service Dogs UK, which has a hub in Woodbridge, Suffolk, enrols veterans on a free programme that lasts between nine and 12 months where they work with assistance dogs to change two lives at a time. 

The Woodbridge branch of the charity was launched in spring 2021, with Suffolk hub manager and trainer Jai Cross saying in December that the team was "in the early stages of setting up this region". 

The grant worth £24,000 has been awarded to the charity by the Veterans' Foundation (VF), which recently launched its #PTSD100 campaign to recognise a century since the first government report into the mental health of service personnel. 

Service dogs aren't used in place of therapists - all veterans on the programme have their own routine for therapy - but the recent accreditation from Assistance Dogs International gives Service Dogs UK the same status and standards as Guide Dogs.

The accreditation makes Service Dogs UK the first PTSD assistance dog charity to do so. 

Throughout 2022, the VF will be giving grants to charities like Service Dogs UK so they can continue their work in helping veterans with PTSD to live a better life. 

Operations director at Service Dogs UK Garry Botterill said: "The grant will help us to meet the demand for our service in the areas that need us most. 

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"As the demand for our 'life changing' service grows, it is vital that we can increase our 'output' so we can help even more veterans. 

"Without support from the VF this would not be possible. Without this funding, we would have to turn veterans away from our charity as we would not have the capacity to take them on. 

"We know what we do works and that we can 'change lives two at a time' but this grant ensures that we can support more of those that need our help." 

All VF grants are made possible by generous donors and players of the Veterans' Lottery.

To find out more about Service Dogs UK and their amazing work, please visit https://www.servicedogsuk.org.