When Emer Berry from Essex Therapy Dogs approached CENS about paying the residents another visit with therapy dog, Samson, we jumped at the chance to have this free service for our residents.
Research shows that petting an animal can release endorphins as well as other “feel good” chemicals in the brain. It’s known to encourage deep breathing which reduces anxiety. Being with animals can also help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Watching Samson running around was a welcome change to the usual evening routine at CENS. One resident said, “it brought back memories of my old pets. I’d forgotten how sweet they are and how much I enjoy being around animals.”
Emer Berry, who came with Samson said, “we were made to feel so welcome, and we hope we spread some happiness.”
Mental health and homelessness
Unfortunately, poor mental health is both a cause and a contributing factor of homelessness. Improving or maintaining positive mental wellbeing for our residents is something CENS tries to work on.
The small things like listening without judging and taking the time to check in with everyone individually makes a difference.
We encourage eating together in the dining area to help reduce feelings of isolation. There’s also a common room with a TV and lots of donated dvds to help foster a community feel, which is said to impact mental health positively.
When residents arrive at CENS they are often at the lowest point in their lives. Some people will be in a state of disbelief that they have found themselves here, while others will feel so anxious, they can’t see how anything will get better.
We’ve found that if they feel motivated and hopefully for the future, slowly their mental health improves and they’re more likely to work with us to find permanent accommodation. Thanks to Emer and Samson from Essex Therapy Dogs, who have helped lift the spirits of everyone they met at CENS.