Dogs are great ice breakers. People gather around them spontaneously, and conversations flow as a result. Inhibitions are overcome, barriers are broken down. Our common humanity is reinforced.
Pets Against Loneliness is a group of volunteers in north London bringing together older members of the community with well-behaved dogs and their owners for the purposes of joy and the alleviation of loneliness. PAL is guided by three key values: community, companionship, and kindness.
Pets Against Loneliness was born of the twin beliefs that older people are often undervalued in our society - sometimes leading to isolation and feelings of loneliness - and that animal companionship can make a big difference to this.
PAL hosts monthly morning tea gatherings facilitating our older guests to connect with other people and experience animal companionship they may not otherwise be able to access. Friendships are built over cake, conversation and canines.
At Pets Against Loneliness, we particularly encourage younger people to bring older friends, neighbours or family members who may benefit from coming along to PAL's morning tea sessions.
The sessions are held on the first Saturday of each month, from 10am until 12noon on an informal, drop-in basis. The events are free to attend, and the venue is fully accessible. Events are held at St. Matthias Halls, Wordsworth Rd, Stoke Newington N16 8DD.
"On a cold, slushy Saturday morning in March I went to the inaugural meeting of Pets Against Loneliness. It’s a local monthly social meeting aimed at lonely, older people.
There was tea and cake, and lots of well-behaved friendly dogs and their equally lovely owners.
All were welcoming and kind, and I met people and dogs I would not normally meet. Sounds a bit bonkers doesn't it? But it works. Dogs are great ice breakers."