Special pooches giving children independence

A charity that trains hounds to care for diabetic children has been nominated for an honour through the annual Kent Mental Wellbeing Awards. The Kent-based assistance dog charity supports children living with Type 1 diabetes who have little or no awareness of their blood sugar levels.

It is the only UK based charity supporting families of Type 1 diabetic children regardless of whether they have access to technology supplied to them by the NHS.

Assistance dogs essentially become carers for the children, giving parents peace of mind and the space to be parents rather than unpaid carers. Without the assistance dogs, children are more likely to collapse and fall into a diabetic coma without warning, with their parents and siblings living in constant fear of this. The assistance dogs give the children the freedom and independence they need to participate in activities that they would otherwise feel excluded from and they offer peace of mind to parents and siblings that their children will not suddenly fall ill. There are 29,000 children in the UK with Type 1 diabetes and it is in the top 5 causes of pediatric death in the country.

The charity has existed for 8 years and continues to offer an excellent holistic approach to parents and care givers of children living with chronic medical conditions. For example, Hypo Hounds organises respite days where the children and siblings are taken out for the day, and parents have access to group support sessions with trained counselors. The charity also provides mental health monitoring, peer mentoring and will soon provide a buddy scheme for children.

Hypo Hounds receives no government support or NHS donations and relies solely on public donations. They have had to adapt to difficult circumstances over the past few years since the pandemic, expanding out into the corporate world by offering mental wellbeing workshops in the workplace with their own puppies, which reduces stress and increases morale in the workplace.

The nominator said, “Hypo Hounds are an innovative charity adapting and overcoming adversity providing a unique and very special service to not only our service users but also the residents of Kent”.

The Kent Mental Wellbeing awards is an annual event designed to showcase the people, organisations and initiatives that help us cope with life. The event’s three themes are: kindness and compassion; wellbeing; mental health.

Whether it is in school, business, community or family, so many of us have been lucky to have people and organisations with ideas, tips and tactics to help us cope. It is time to celebrate those mental health and well-being champions in our community and share this best practice.

The awards will be staged in October by the mental health charity Mind in Bexley and East Kent in collaboration with a range of wellbeing and mental health organisations.

Nominations can be linked to a simple act of kindness that lifted the spirits, a business that has improved staff wellbeing, through to a targeted initiative delivered by a charity or statutory organisation to support a mental health issue.

The event is sponsored by Kent County Council, Kent Community Foundation, ADM Computing, GrainLNG – National Grid, Medway Council, Optyma Security, Ble Global, Wave Community Bank, Cactus Graphics and CommunityAid.

Submit nominations at www.kentmentalwellbeingawards.org.uk  For awards news follow @KentMWAwards on Facebook and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.