Appeal: Lyn Ambrose (second left) with fellow volunteers. Photograph: Pets Against Loneliness

A volunteer group which organises free dog-gatherings for older folks in Hackney has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help ensure its long-term survival – after its first two events proved a big hit.

Pets Against Loneliness (PAL) was started by Newington Green resident Lyn Ambrose in November last year, inspired by her belief that “older members of the community are often undervalued in our society”.

With the help of like-minded volunteers, Lyn officially launched PAL in March with a first monthly meeting at New Unity church which attracted more than thirty people.

The idea proved so popular that the second gathering in April attracted even more guests.

Now Lyn is hoping to raise £2,000 to cover running costs for the remainder of 2018, with the group currently having to rely upon donations from local businesses.

She said: “Funds raised will be used solely for project delivery, such as resources and refreshments for participants, catering equipment, promotional materials and project development activities such as a website.”

PAL’s third meet-up is this Saturday – details below – and Lyn said she is “looking forward to welcoming lots of visitors”.

She added: “As ever, we continue to be very grateful to New Unity’s Reverend Andy Pakula, the church’s team, and the local businesses who kindly support PAL with delicious donations.”

Research by leading charity Age UK found there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, with around 500,000 of them going five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone.

Seventy-year-old local resident Jenni said PAL has given her a great way to spend time with people: “Everyone was welcoming and kind, and I met people and dogs I would not normally meet.

“Sounds a bit bonkers doesn’t it? But it works. Dogs are great ice-breakers.”

She added: “As I’ve got older it’s become harder to meet new people, so I was not
disappointed, and as the weather gets warmer and more people hear about it I
am sure it will be successful.”

Lyn has encouraged “well-behaved dogs and their owners” to join PAL’s volunteer database.

Meet-ups are held from 10am-12pm on the first Saturday of each month New Unity’s Newington Green Meeting House, N16 9PR.

The venue is accessible, but please be aware that there is no disabled toilet.

If you’d like to donate to Pets Against Loneliness, please visit the group’s JustGiving page here

To sign up as a volunteer, please email Lyn at lynambrose@gmail.com or call her on 07886 674 190

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