Good Causes Exhibitor
Who are we and what do we do?
Support Dogs is a national charity, based in Sheffield, dedicated to improving independence and quality of life for people living with some of the most challenging medical conditions. It trains specialist assistance dogs to achieve this.
We are founder members of the Assistance Dogs UK governing body whose members also include Guide Dogs for the Blind and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.
All our dogs are trained at our training centre on Brightside Lane, Sheffield with our specially trained trainers and instructors.
These highly trained dogs help with everyday tasks for people with physical disabilities, give advanced warning of seizures for people with epilepsy and provide safety and support for children with autism and their families.
The three programmes are Seizure Alert Programme, Autism Assistance Programme and the Disability Assistance Programme.
Seizure Alert Programme
Epilepsy is the most common neurological illness with over 500,000 cases in the UK. 30% of people with epilepsy are unable to control their seizures through medication. This means that, there is an estimated 150,000 people eligible for a Seizure Alert Dog in the UK.
Seizure Alert Dogs are trained to provide a 100% reliable warning between 15-45 minutes prior to an oncoming seizure. They enable their owner to find a place of safety and maintain their dignity. The security of having this warning is life changing. It facilitates greater independence and the ability to live a more active life. It may also help to prevent the 400 or so deaths each year caused by accidents following an epileptic seizure.
Autism Assistance Programme
Autism Assistance Dogs are trained to provide safety and facilitation of a more independent and socially inclusive life for both the child with autism and their family. Autism Assistance Dogs reduce stress for family members; promote positive changes in behaviour; provide comfort for the child when upset; and reduce behavioural outbursts, allowing the child and family to become more fully active and involved in their community.
It is predicted that 1 in 100 people in the UK have Autism, according to the ONS 2011 Census there are around 7,370,500 children between 3 to 10 years old (age to apply for a support dog). If 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with autism then there are potentially 73,705 children in need of an Autism Assistance Dog in the UK.
Disability Assistance Programme
Our Disability Assistance Dogs are trained to meet the specific needs of a client. Our aim is to improve independence for people whose physical disability significantly reduces their quality of life. We are the only charity able to train a client’s own pet dog to provide this support.
Our assistance dogs provide practical assistance with tasks that may be painful or impossible to perform. This includes raising an alarm in an emergency, opening and closing door, picking up objects and assisting with dressing and undressing. There are 6.9 million people in the UK of working age with a physical disability (which is 19% of the population) that could be eligible for an assistance dog to change their lives.
Wider benefits of our work
Our assistance dogs also facilitate vital social interaction. An assistance dog is often the catalyst for conversation, meeting new people and increasing their owner’s interaction with members of the community. This further increases confidence and self-esteem. This change is often cited by our clients hugely improving the quality of their life. It reintegrates them into a community they once felt isolated from and develops friendships and further opportunities for social interaction.
Increased independence through the deployment of a Support Dog releases family members from their role as primary carer and in many cases can enable them to return to paid employment, therefore reducing poverty and social deprivation and improving family life and relationship.
How will exhibiting at SheffEX help Support Dogs?
Our service is free to all our clients and we rely entirely on voluntary donations to continue our work. Support Dogs receive no government funding. We have extremely long waiting lists for our programmes, especially the Autism Assistance and Disability Assistance Programme. For these two programmes our waiting list is closed for two years but with over 690 enquiries alone since 2014 we need to increase our capacity by raising as many funds as possible.
Raising awareness to businesses in the Sheffield area will give our organisation an opportunity to meet new businesses in the Sheffield area that may want to nominate a Charity of the Year or work in partnership with our charity or looking to expand their reach of Corporate Social Responsibility. The general awareness and a chance to circulate our literature about our work would be a fantastic PR opportunity for our charity in the local area which may encourage people to look at how to help our charity as individuals.