Pets Against Loneliness is a group of volunteers in North London whose purpose is to help alleviate loneliness in older members of the community, through connecting with well-behaved dogs and their owners. PAL hosts informal, free, drop-in morning tea sessions on the first Saturday of every month from 10am-12noon at St. Matthias Halls, Stoke Newington N16 8DD
Thanks to the presence of some of the friendliest local canines, our events are fun and engaging – but there’s a strong community feel too, and it’s a safe space for our guests. Here’s what happens at a typical PAL meet-up.
9.00am: The team arrives
PAL is run entirely by volunteers, and we arrive at our venue – St Matthias Halls, in London’s Stoke Newington – in the hour before the official kick-off at 10am. We’ve got plenty of jobs to do before everyone arrives, like hanging up signs directing people to the entrance, arranging the room, preparing the food and drinks, and putting up the all-important bunting!
9.50am: Standing by
By this time, the room and refreshments are ready, and the volunteers have been assigned specific roles during the event, such as ‘Meeting and Greeting’.
10.00am: The kettle is on
Our first guests begin to arrive and we make them feel at home with a cup of tea or coffee and a tasty biscuit or pastry. Suddenly, Missy the golden retriever comes bounding through the door with her Dad Andy – and a collective fuss is made over her as she greets everyone!
10.45am: Conversations are in full flow
One of the great aspects of a PAL meet-up is the diversity of conversations that guests, dog owners and volunteers can enjoy. In one corner there’ll be a walk down memory lane discussing London in years gone by, while in another there’ll be a chat about everything from technology to television. And the universal love of dogs among all in the room acts as an icebreaker and equaliser, so everyone’s comfortable joining in.
11.45am: Extra biscuit, anyone?
We cater for all requirements at PAL, and we provide a range of refreshment options – including dairy and non-dairy milk, several teabag choices and a range of biscuits and pastries. Towards the end of the event, we ensure that anyone who wants a last cuppa or snack can pick one up.
12.10pm: Packing away
With the wagging tails of Rusty the springer spaniel and Max the lurcher heading off into the distance, it’s time for the volunteers to clean the hall, pack up and say goodbye – until next month!
For more information on St Matthias Halls go to http://www.stmatthiashalls.org.uk/
If you’re based in Islington or Hackney and can either commit to volunteering or know someone who’d benefit from coming along, we’d love to hear from you.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.