Therapy dogs have ‘pawsitive’ effect on Rainford High

Rainford High is delighted to be developing further strategies to support student and staff mental health and wellbeing.

The school has teamed up with Hope’s Therapy Dogs and will welcome handler Alison and her dogs two days a week.

Students and staff will be able to spend time with the comforting dogs if they are feeling stressed, anxious or just need some alone time.

The benefits of therapy dogs are endless. Together with their handlers, they can improve children’s social, emotional and mental health, support speech therapy and alleviate any fears children may have, including the current pandemic and anxiety about being back in school.

This new offering strengthens Rainford High’s current mental health and wellbeing support. Already in place is a mental health lead in the school, 18 mental health first aiders, as well as a dedicated mental health and wellbeing week which usually takes place in July.

Principal of Rainford High, Ian Young said: “We are thrilled to be working with Alison and her therapy dogs. We recognise there are many benefits of having highly trained therapy dogs on site.

“As we continue to move forward through the pandemic, we are committed to supporting our students in as many ways as possible to help them achieve success.”

Alison Colley said: “Seeing the impact the dogs can have on children and their wider life chances cannot be underestimated and can play a key role as part of an inclusive mental health and wellbeing strategy in any school.”

Hope’s Therapy Dogs is a new service in St Helens which was formed after Alison’s daughter, Hope, aged 7, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.

Hope was given a dog, Pippa, by her mum to help her recuperate but when she relapsed, her loyal four-legged friend became her therapy dog. Before Hope sadly passed away, she asked her mum to train Pippa as a therapy dog so that she could help other children.