StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme
StreetVet provides free, accessible veterinary care to pets whose owners are experiencing homelessness, whether rough sleeping or in hostels
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:
Yes, I’m eligible
Yes, I’m 18 years old or older
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:
Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Local teams of StreetVet volunteers currently outreach weekly in 16 locations across the UK and we are constantly expanding to areas with substantial unmet need, based on local research. The local teams are currently:
(Norwich opening soon)
Website or social media url(s)
Enhance physical activity and wellness
Re-imagining the role of pets in society
Revolutionizing veterinary care for pets
Reduce exclusion of pet owners. One Health.
What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?
nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
StreetVet started with two vets, Jade and Sam, and a backpack in 2016. At the time, Jade was feeling helpless because her own dog had been diagnosed with cancer. While visiting friends in London, she met a homeless owner whose dog had a skin infection. He described the same feeling of helplessness due to being unable to access vet care. Jade knew she could help – making free vet care accessible to homeless pet owners. Unbeknownst to her, a similar experience led Sam to start doing the same thing in a different part of London. They eventually met and partnered as co-founders of what is now the national charity StreetVet. As more and more vets and vet nurses joined the team, SV registered as a vet "practice" treating pets on the streets.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Homelessness has increased dramatically and around 25% of homeless individuals have pets. This life-shaping relationship comes at substantial cost. Most hostel accommodation is not pet friendly and neither are hospitals, so homeless owners often turn down healthcare if they have nowhere to leave their dogs. Despite our emergency measures in these cases, unless homeless hostels widely adopt pet friendly policies, the problem will persist.
3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
StreetVet supports the few existing pet friendly hostels in the following ways - providing free vet care, pet essentials, writing pet references and funding emergency kennelling. A SV Accredited Hostel Scheme will empower more hostel managers to adopt positive pet policies, train staff to implement these policies with consistent veterinary support and recognise good practice nationally. Hostels would be able to use StreetVet Accreditation to demonstrate their inclusivity of homeless pet owners in their marketing campaigns and when applying for local government commissioned funding.
This scheme would have two phases: 1) Pre-accreditation: SV would inspect premises, provide hostel staff training in person and online, provide a pet policy document which owners agree to, including risk assessment, and all start up supplies; 2) Implementation: new arrival checkups, welcome packs, routine preventative treatments, continued staff training, access to 24/7 advice and vet care.
As owners transition from hostels into independent accommodation, StreetVet continues to support them for a year to ensure the costs of looking after their pets is not financially limiting at a time of change.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
Other organisations have addressed some aspects of this accommodation barrier, but the SV Accredited Hostel Scheme is the first to seamlessly cover all vet needs from the hostels' point of view.
It is unique because it constitutes a “plug and play” holistic system for suitable hostels to adopt or expand their positive pet policies, with ongoing support and assistance (including 24/7 vet care, provision of a pet friendly taxi account for vet transfers, collaborative relationships within the pet and veterinary industries which facilitate regular food delivery and pet essentials like toys, bowls, beds, muzzles, crates).
StreetVet has facilitated an MSc research project and has applied to collaborate on a second, building our evidence base.
5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?
Protecting the human-animal bond is at the core of everything we do as, above all, we aim to keep our clients and their pets together. Homeless pet ownership provides companionship, unconditional acceptance, a sense of routine, responsibility and redemption. It has been linked to reduced criminal activity, alcohol and drug abuse and an improvement in mental and physical health. As well as protecting this bond, our scheme will give homeless pet owners ability to access services, attend appointments and courses that allow them to start rebuilding their lives.
StreetVet has used our professional voice and on-street experience to challenge public stigma. As a result of this scheme and our unique service delivery, we aim to stop the human animal bond from being a hindrance to service delivery. StreetVet as a whole helps our clients to build relationships, learn to trust, empowers them to take responsibility for their own health and their pets, reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation and gives them hope that a brighter future is possible.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
We have 600+ volunteer vets/nurses outreaching weekly in 16 locations across the UK, providing 90hrs/month professional time in London alone. We have nearly 1000 registered patients and have performed 3500+ consultations. Since Sept 2019 our teams have helped 9 pets and their owners transition into accommodation by providing wraparound assistance and support before, during and after this transition.
SV has also been instrumental in helping 2 hostels in Brighton and Gloucester to welcome pets by providing our dog policy which helped hostel staff set rules and expectations, all supplies and the peace of mind of 24/7 access to advice and free vet care. We have been asked to help 2 new temporary shelters become pet friendly in the next few months, as part of this we are piloting our first training course designed for hostel staff in collaboration with the Blue Cross and a local council.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
SV was able to create a supported infrastructure of vet care that could be rolled out over the UK like a charity franchise. We aim to do the same with hostels: provide centralised resources and systems of work that are readily applicable in hostels nationally. Our overheads are low due to pro bono support from the vet industry. Most services can be scaled at minimum cost: telemedicine triage, provision of pet friendly policies and risk assessment, online staff training, in person volunteer vet support in cities where we operate. Marketing this scheme will be essential to achieving uptake.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
Our patients, their owners and staff working in pet-friendly hostels are the primary beneficiaries. Homelessness is a societal problem and we provide a professional, non-judgmental channel empowering the public to request support for homeless owners, promoting a sense of community.
SV also benefits our volunteers (“the most rewarding part of my career”, “it reminds me of why I became a vet in the first place”) and the vet profession at large (dealing with tricky cases that previously would not fit into any charity’s remit).
Pets break down barriers, decrease social isolation for homeless individuals, improving self care and mental health, reduce alcohol and drugs abuse, and ultimately decrease criminal offences
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
We anticipate launching the scheme would cost £70-75k (breakdown available), with variable costs up £14K in the first two years.
The cost of veterinary overheads is low due to the voluntary nature of the vets and nurses and the ongoing pro bono and charity support from the profession, veterinary and pet industry. Telemedicine allows staff and owners to access advice and phone triage which may reduce costs.
Long term sustainability: charging a fee for accredited status (could have tiers), charging for subsequent in person training, grant application for dual human/animal welfare donations, seasonal appeals for the public to support the scheme, local government commissions once the scheme has proved successful (estimated after 2 years)
10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Board of Trustees/Execs: 6 vets+members with management, social media, education and marketing expertise. We may add a member who works for a housing provider as part of the Scheme.
600+ volunteer vets and nurses. In each city a Team Lead oversees clinical and non clinical voluntary roles.
3 FT salaried roles: Clinical Director, Operations Manager, General Manager. As income is generated, we may hire a Hostel Coordinator.
Official partner Battersea Dogs Home provides mentorship and advice.
11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?
This award would launch the SV Accredited Hostel Scheme. It would help us broaden the bottleneck stopping pet owners escaping homelessness, continue to fight stigma and exclusion, and bring about a change in homelessness service provision. The culture is starting to change: this year “dog kennels and free access to veterinary care” were listed as examples of good practice in emergency accommodation provision (Homeless Link 2020). Together with local councils and housing providers, we will pilot in-person training to hostel staff as of February 2020. These partnerships extend our sphere of influence from 3rd sector and grass-roots organisations to academic and governmental entities (research projects details available on request).
12. How did you hear about this challenge?
13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.
A unique aspect of StreetVet service delivery is our weekly consistent presence on the streets, we build up trust and develop a professional relationship both with our beneficiaries directly and grass root outreach services who can then refer to us. We regularly have feedback that pet exclusion from hostels is all too commonplace. Further interactions have shown the following reasons for this: a lack of confidence working with dogs; inadequate hostel staff training ; no pet provisions ; concern regarding veterinary care provision and animal welfare responsibility ; lack of hostel dog policies and procedures, lease/insurance limitations.
Testing this process with beneficiaries has led to multiple successes in re-homing clients and their pets indicating the benefits of a national roll-out of an accredited hostel scheme. Case study Nick & Roxy in attachments demonstrates how StreetVet has been able to bridge the gap between our clients, their pets and hostels for the better
14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?
By assisting our clients with hostel accommodation, we ensure the human/animal bond is not broken and both owner and pet benefit from a more stable safer environment, warmth, shelter, access to food and doctors/vets, improved social interactions and a stepping stone to rebuilding their lives. The more hostels we can help become pet friendly, the fewer pets will be exposed to last resort separation from their owners through kenneling or rehoming. The median age of StreetVet patients is 8 years old, reflecting the length of time most have been with their owners, and over half are Staffordshire Bull Terriers. It is a sad reality that elderly Staffies relinquished by their owners often struggle to be rehomed and many are euthanized. Re-homing would also be extremely stressful for elderly dogs who are very closely bonded usually to an individual person.
StreetVet commits to providing veterinary care for at least a year after any beneficiary is housed thus prioritising the pet's welfare
15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?
Local councils and statutory bodies: The statutory duty to accommodate people does not extend to accommodating their pets, unless the owner is hospitalised, sectioned or remanded in custody. Staff are often ill-equipped and untrained to meet the needs of bonded pet owners.
National veterinary charities: We have good ties with the Blue Cross, Mayhew, Dogs Trust, PDSA, Cats Protection and we recently formed an official partnership with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. We believe that by working together we can harness each other's skill sets, pool resources and achieve more. For example, the PDSA has secured £15K to be utilised for our patients. The StreetVet Hostel scheme would be the only wrap-around provision covering everything from daily essentials to emergency veterinary treatment and follow-on support when owners transition into independent housing. Others provide temporary boarding or outdoor kennel installation, both require pet/owner separation and are not as readily scalable.
16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.
Collaboration is key and we aim to share best practice and information across all within this sector. We invite representatives from other veterinary charities to attend our sponsored annual conference and use this as a platform to forge good working partnerships.
We are proactive in forming relationships with hostels and outreach teams in every StreetVet location. We have been instrumental in helping some hostels become dog friendly and others improve their systems of work (Single Homeless Project, The Elms Hemel Hempstead). This month we are piloting our first hostel staff training day on Working Safely with Dogs alongside the Blue Cross.
Being involved in research is also key and we have applied to be a collaborator on a Masters at Nottingham Vet school on the subject of identifying barriers and enablers to admitting pets to homelessness services.
In the future we hope to take our proposals to the Local Government Homelessness Commission to gain national recognition
17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?
1) Featured Sunday Times Alternative Rich List 2018
2) Points of Light Awards Theresa May 2018
3) RCVS Impact Award 2018
4) Winner Animal Friends Insurance charity giveaway 2018
5) RSPCA Outstanding contribution award 2019
6) Animal Star Vet of The Year award 2019
7) Most admired charity Vet Trust awards 2019
8) The Webinar Vet "most enjoyed" CPD 2019
9) The Big Issue Top 100 Changemakers 2020
9) Nominated CEVA welfare awards (Charitable contribution & Vet of the year)
18. Your Self-Elevator Pitch (OPTIONAL): Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.
This is a one minute video that describes how I started on my StreetVet journey
19. Financial Sustainability (OPTIONAL): Please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project, include an attached document with your detailed business plan or other equivalent information. (This information will NOT be shared with your fellow contestant, it will only be visible to you and internal Prize reviewers).
1) Development and piloting: This phase will see us finalise and test professional training materials for hostel staff and StreetVet volunteers, as well as giving us a track-record of supporting 9 hostels over 2 years (Projected Costings document). The majority of initial costs will be invested in developing training content for hostel staff. Expert input will be required for legal, insurance, human medical and social services advice.
2) Implementation and marketing: The scheme will be marketed to local government and national homelessness service providers, who are long-term potential clients. Scheme implementation over its first 5 years will revolve around cities StreetVet is established in.
3) National rollout seeking local council commissioning: Income from local councils commissioning our services to meet their statutory duties will be supplemented by levying Inspection Fees as part of accreditation and fundraising drives (e.g. “Sponsor a room” appeals)