Our top priority during the Covid-19 pandemic is the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, clients and dogs. We have adopted a cautious approach to ensure we do everything possible to protect everyone connected with the charity. We have reviewed our operating protocols for all aspects of our work. These are regularly updated in light of our experience and to reflect new guidance from the government or other appropriate health and veterinary agencies.
As we enter 2021, the Covid-19 position remains challenging and we have reviewed our services and operating protocols again in light of the recently-announced national lockdown.
Offices and homeworking
Our Banbury centre is open for a very limited number of staff each day and for volunteers to drop off dogs by appointment only. It will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Our centres in Culcheth and Bristol remain closed. We are supporting our staff to work from home wherever possible.
Working in wider environment
Given the current high transmission rates, we continue to take a cautious approach to risk and are utilising contactless and virtual methods of support wherever possible in our interactions and work with volunteers and clients. At times, exceptional circumstances may require us to provide support ‘in person’. We will do this in line with our strict hygiene protocols and only after a comprehensive risk assessment has been completed.
Our dog training and socialisation approach through this period aims to minimise the risk of contact and interaction with others. This includes social distancing and strict hygiene protocols for our dogs and people.
Operationally, some staff may be furloughed on a part-time basis where the lockdown means a significant change to their role or work schedule over this period.
Staying Covid-19 secure
We have clear protocols in place across our operations to ensure we protect the safety and wellbeing of everyone. We comply with government guidelines and have also taken additional precautions where we think they are required to protect our staff, volunteer team and those we support and work with.
These key steps include:
- We have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the people who work for the charity. Our full risk assessment is available to anyone on request.
- We have strict cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in place in line with guidance.
- We have robust hygiene and handling processes in place to ensure the safe collection, transportation and transfer of our dogs.
- We have taken all reasonable steps to support our staff so that they can continue to work effectively from home.
- Where staff cannot work from home, we have taken all reasonable steps to help them work safely from a Covid-19 secure workplace.
- We have provided Personal Protective Equipment to our staff to protect them and those they interact with, in line with our operating protocols.
- We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain 2 metre social distancing at our centre and when working out in the community.
- Where people cannot keep 2 metres apart for very short periods, we have taken all mitigating actions possible to manage transmission risk.
- We are currently supporting clients and volunteers on a contactless or virtual basis wherever possible. In exceptional circumstances, where we may need to provide support ‘in person’, we will only proceed having undertaken a comprehensive risk assessment and in line with our strict hygiene protocols.
- We regularly review our working protocols in response to new guidance, feedback and experience.
Impact on fundraising
We are very grateful to the many people who are supporting us in terms of fundraising and raising awareness. We remain committed to our mission to help as many people as possible through the power of dogs. Continuing to raise funds is therefore crucial as we navigate through these challenging times.
While many of our events and activities that raise vital funds for us have had to be postponed, there are lots of ways you can still get involved to help us. For details of how you can support us, click here.
These are clearly extraordinary times. I want to thank everyone in our committed team of staff and volunteers who are helping us to steer a steady and safe path through this difficult period.