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Joining forces to combat loneliness

Published on 12 May 2021 03:38 PM

Age UK Norwich and the RSPCA Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch are working together to encourage older people in Norwich to open their home and heart to an animal in need.

Throughout lockdown pet ownership numbers have soared, with people of all ages seeking the companionship and love of an animal.

Caring for an animal is proven to have a positive impact on mental well-being, and just as important are the benefits for our physical wellbeing. Older people that take care of an animal can expect a boost to the immune system, along with the regular exercise that can improve our mobility and fitness.

Despite the recent boom of interest in welcoming an animal into the family, there are still thousands of animals in shelters and temporary accommodation waiting for a home.

Animal fosterers support rescue charities by providing a temporary place for the animal to stay. Some animals need a little extra love and care to prepare them for life in a new home, and fosterers play a really important role in helping these animals on their rehabilitation journey.

Dan Skipper, CEO of Age UK Norwich, explains that it is not just the animal that benefits from the fostering process.

“Half of over 75’s live alone and one in ten older people tell their GP they are lonely – which, doctors tell us, is as harmful to life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Combatting loneliness has always been one of the key aims of Age UK Norwich, and we’re really excited to encourage older people in Norwich to consider this important voluntary role as one way to improve their mental and physical wellbeing”

Animal fosterers have full support along the way, as Chloe Shorten, Animal Welfare Manager explains.

“When you foster for the RSPCA, whether it be a dog, cat or small animal such as rabbit, we provide all the equipment such as bedding, food and toys to keep our furry friends happy. We also cover veterinary bills and between our partnership vets can provided 24/7 care. We use COVID secure interactions to keep everyone safe and make the experience positive and enjoyable for both animals and fosterers!"

Future plans for the partnership include fosterer social events, helping older people to meet other fosterers to share their experiences, make new connections and enjoy the company of likeminded people.

CEO of the RSPCA Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch, Greg Brown said the following about the new project:

"We are delighted to be partnering with Age UK Norwich on this very worthwhile and important project. Not only will the animals in our care receive the extra special love and attention that a fosterer brings, but the fosterer will also benefit from the rewarding, active and healthy lifestyle that caring for an animal can bring”

If you are considering fostering an animal in need of a temporary home, get in touch with the RSPCA Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch today for an informal chat about the role.  Phone on 0303 040 1565 or click here to email the RSPCA.

Find out more about the RSPCA