Keeping pets with their owners across Harborough district

Barrie Stephen
Barrie Stephen

A pet companion scheme helping combat loneliness is set to be made available across the Harborough district

Leicester Animal Aid is offering pet owners help with daily tasks such as dog walking, animal grooming and vet visits.

Entrepreneur Barrie Stephen, who is spearheading the project, said: “The idea behind Community Pet Support Scheme is to keep owners and pets together.

“Animals are a bridge for people suffering social isolation, including many of the older generation and also people with disabilities.

“I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact of the scheme but as with most charities, the challenge is to always keep on top of fundraising. It’s important there is no charge to the service user. We’re delighted to be offering the scheme in Harborough district.”

Since launching in 2016, Leicester Animal Aid has supported 52 people with pets including dogs, cats, birds and even a terrapin. Each project costs the charity an average of £30 a week to fund, excluding veterinary care.

Harborough’s leading charity on loneliness, VASL, have welcomed the news and are set to refer their clients to Leicester Animal Aid.

Maureen O’Malley VASL manager, said: “We are delighted to see this much-needed service being offered in the Harborough area. VASL knows from experience the devastating effect it can have on an older person when they are no longer able to walk their much-loved pet. The service Leicester Animal Aid can provide will be a lifeline for many.”

Leicestershire South MP Alberto Costa was also quick to praise Leicester Animal Aid when asked about their work, describing he said: “I should like to pay tribute to Leicester Animal Aid for their brilliant work through the Community Pet Support Scheme.

“Lots of studies have shown that pet ownership drastically improves mental wellbeing, and is a particularly good resource at addressing loneliness, which I know can be prevalent among the elderly.”

Mr Stephen, who owns a hair salon group in Leicestershire, praised staff working on the scheme for their ‘utterly selfless work’, adding: “The staff are out every day providing essential hands-on pet care to some of the neediest members of the community.

“Everyone in the Barrie Stephen family is excited to be working with such a dynamic animal welfare charity.”