We’ve been working with charity StreetVet for years and this year more than most, we wanted to give them a voice on our blog to tell you about the amazing work they do. This is co-founder Jade Statt telling us about the impact of 2020 on StreetVet in her own words.
“With COVID-19 taking hold globally, there are no winners in this pandemic and everyone is facing the harsh reality of lost earnings, redundancy, social isolation, loss of support networks and a very uncertain future. As with so many charities, StreetVet has felt the impact of such a huge world-changing event and we have had to evolve and adapt with whatever is around the next corner.
“During lockdown ‘version one’ many of our outreach sessions were stopped abruptly following advice from veterinary governing bodies. Teleconsults became the ‘new norm’ and emergencies were dealt with by arrangement at local practices. Of course this presented challenges with owners who had no dependable phone access or who were in no fixed location.
The first lockdown: March 2020
“In some cities, large proportions of the homeless community were suddenly moved into temporary accommodation and in all the confusion and movement, contact was temporarily lost with many of our regular owners and their dogs.
“In time, most have reconnected with us through various channels and some cities have returned to regular planned outreach sessions, albeit in a limited capacity with enhanced hygiene regulations.
“But we weren’t the only service to be affected. Access to essential services (GPs, housing support, street kitchens, mental health charities) has all been thwarted by social distancing, decreased funding – and fewer available volunteers.
Social distancing and social isolation
“However, despite the reduction in fundamental support, it quickly became apparent to us that the greatest challenge for our clients is loneliness. People depend on human contact and interaction to keep them grounded, happy and validated.
A lifeline in hard times
“Our lead vets report that many of their clients trust the StreetVet volunteers implicitly, and chatting to them regularly on the phone has proved to be a real lifeline.
“Lockdown has amplified feelings of social isolation and prejudice, which will inevitably increase low morale and depression in many vulnerable people. The financial crisis has led to an increase in homelessness, and people of no fixed abode are gravitating towards cities where basic aid, such as food banks, is more available.
Caring in the crisis
“From a veterinary perspective, reduced outreach sessions means reduced preventative care – and an increase in worsening chronic conditions in our patients. Across all our StreetVet teams there has been an exponential increase in emergency calls and a far greater need for funding to get these patients the in-practice treatment they require.
“Paradoxically, funding has reduced significantly due to the immediate stop on all public gatherings, including fundraising events, and of course the financial strain that so many people are currently experiencing.
“Collection points for donated items have closed and the risk of viral transmission is at the forefront of accepting physical donations (including cash) at any time.
How tails.com is helping
“Unfortunately our clients are relying on pet food donations now more than ever before.
“Many of our commercial supporters have been crucial to maintaining our service, including the fantastic tails.com. Their head vet, Sean McCormack, has produced the superb ‘Happy Dog Cookbook’ which is available to buy, all proceeds of which are donated to us. The recipes are nutritious and fun and would be a wonderful Christmas present for any dog-lover (or dog!) whilst supporting our work at the same time.
“The StreetVet volunteers have done an amazing job keeping our services running alongside their own challenging veterinary careers, and our clients have been incredibly understanding and grateful for the support we have provided through this very difficult time.
“And so we are extremely proud of what we have achieved during 2020 when other charities have not been so fortunate. Our only regret is that we are not out on the streets as much as we would like and perhaps there are owners and dogs out there that we have not yet been able to reach.”
If you’d like to donate to StreetVet, visit their donation page.