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Meet Brixton Doggy Day Care Helping People In Recovery

Paws & Pause in Brixton is a doggy day care centre that operates as a social enterprise providing training opportunities to people in long-term unemployment while it cares for your pooch. Here, day care assistant and social media and marketing coordinator Shannon, explains a little more…

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How did Paws & Pause come about?

Our founders, Jodie and Grace worked together for many years at St Mungos, running a project to help people with substance abuse disorder and other mental ill health.

During this time, they realised there was a huge lack of opportunities for people in recovery when it came to sustainable employment, as well as traineeships to help these people get back into the workplace.

With this in mind, as well as the knowledge that countless studies have shown that spending time with dogs can reduce human stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increasing the production of feel-good chemicals in our brains, the idea for Paws & Pause was born.

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What kind of employment opportunities does Paws & Pause provide?

We offer a comprehensive training scheme for people in recovery who feel employable – for some trainees, this is for the first time in their lives.

Our trainee coordinator Jo, who previously was a trainee herself, creates and leads workshops to help our trainees learn important skills such as CV writing, skills identification, communicating within a team environment and how to look after their own wellbeing.

In addition to this, our trainees commit to working one day per week in the daycare, where they learn time management skills, dog training and enrichment skills, as well as having access to courses such as canine first aid should they want to pursue a career in animal care after their time with us has come to an end.

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How many people in total have Paws & Pause helped so far?

So far, we have had 17 people come through our traineeship scheme, which lasts between three and nine months. About 70 per cent of trainees who have completed the scheme went on to employment with the remainder going onto college courses or further volunteering and community work or have yet to finish their placement.

 

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What Are the different Roles trainees can move into?

Our trainees move into a variety of roles in different industries. We aim to support our trainees in achieving employment in any industry they are interested in and can sustain.

Some of the careers and placements our graduates have gone on to work in include veterinary practice assistant, activity instructors, marketing, social care, dog sitting and walking, and full time college courses with The Prince’s Trust. 

We encourage trainees to apply for any roles we have open, providing they want to continue their time at Paws & Pause, and they are ready to take the next steps into employment.

So far, four people who have completed traineeships have moved on to be employed by Paws & Pause.

We have also previously had trainees work with us for a few hours a week whilst they figure out their next steps and look for other employment opportunities.

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Can you tell me a bit about your partnership with Black Thrive?

This year we have been working with Lambeth-based organisation Black Thrive to help address the lack of diversity in the canine care industry.

Fifty per cent of Paws & Pause’s current placements are allocated to black people in Lambeth who meet our general criteria. The highest rates of unemployed disabled people are in mixed ethnic (16%) and Black groups (16%) (HM Government, 2019).

Employment outcomes are alarmingly low for people suffering from addiction and mental health and these same outcomes are lower for Black people. Combining these two exacerbates an already unacceptable situation. We are passionate about equal opportunity and supporting traineeships for undeserved and heavily stigmatised members of our community in south London. This project with Black Thrive looks into different approaches to employment support for Black people with long term conditions, including mental health, and is a project we are really proud to be working on.

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What’s your favourite part of the working day?

Every day, we schedule at least one session of enrichment games and toys for the dogs.

I love to create these, whether it’s something simple like a puzzle bowl we’ve bought online, or something more creative – like filling a large paddling pool with scrunched up newspaper and treats for the dogs to hunt through.

I find the process very engaging, relaxing and rewarding because at the end of it, you get to see the dogs having fun, hunting and sniffing which are all proven to be beneficial for their general well being.

It’s also something that the trainees can easily get involved in, and it’s great to see their confidence build over the weeks.

We’ve had trainees come in with home-made enrichment toys, having done their own research online which is amazing to see. 

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For more information on Paws & Pause, visit pawsandpause.co.uk

 

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