A new ‘pet friendly’ hostel accreditation scheme has launched, offering certified accommodation for pet owners experiencing homelessness.
While one in 10 of those experiencing homelessness have a pet – around 32,000 people in the UK - the vast majority of hostels do not accept animals, meaning many people are unable to access accommodation.
This led UK charity StreetVet to create the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme, which ensures that hostels are well-equipped to proactively support pet-owning residents. This includes having a variety of pet-friendly health, hygiene and safety policies; access to vet care including telemedicine, free provision of pet essentials, transport to vet practices when needed and emergency kennelling should the pet owner be taken ill and trained hostel team members able to offer support.
The scheme - which will roll out nationwide – has launched with its first accredited site, The Elms in Hemel Hempstead.
The charity was able to launch the programme after winning 50,000 CHF (£41,000) in funding from Purina’s BetterwithPets Prize. StreetVet was chosen from more than 150 applicants from more than 20 countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Purina’s programme rewards social entrepreneurs and innovators seeking to harness the pet-human bond to tackle societal issues.
StreetVet co-founder and vet Jade Statt said: “Under current regulations, if people turn down housing due to 'no pets' clauses, they are told they are making themselves 'intentionally homeless' and are refused further housing assistance. Any pet lover will understand that choosing between a roof over your head and the company of your beloved pet is no choice at all.
“Our hope is that in setting up the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme, fewer people will have to make this impossible choice. Access to pet-friendly hostels is their first step towards independent housing. With homelessness on the rise due to the economic impact of COVID-19, it was important to us to launch this scheme before Christmas, as winter sets in.”
Bernard Meunier, Purina EMENA chief executive said: “This great achievement demonstrates how a programme built on deep love for pets and their owners, and belief in the power of the pet-human bond, can deliver positive change for both individuals and communities. And this is what we want to achieve with our BetterwithPets Prize.”
In addition to receiving Purina funding, StreetVet joined a 13-week mentoring programme, which saw participants work with Purina business leaders to develop plans to boost their impact, changing the society in which they operate.
To find out more information about StreetVet and the hostel scheme, visit https://www.streetvet.org.uk
To find more information about Purina BetterwithPets Prize, visithttps://www.ashoka.org/en/program/PurinaBetterwithPetsPrize