Who let the dogs out! Wellbeing day at the uni

“We will visit anywhere; we will go wherever anyone needs us.”

Wednesday 30th November was Wellbeing Day for the University of Essex when the VTeam invited students to take a moment out of their day to practice self-care.

The day began with coffee in the Greenhouse Café, then the afternoon was filled with activities from plate smashing, to free yoga and the well-anticipated therapy dogs.

With multiple studies finding that being around animals reduces the risk of depression and decreases anxiety, it was no surprise to find Square Five alive with students waiting to see the therapy dogs Bobby, Minty, Jess, Joshie, and Dora.

The VTeam members were there to organise and keep the event moving, making sure that each group of students had 15 minutes with the dogs.

As the volunteering team of the Student Union, their services are completely free and part of the SU membership. Secretary Izzy Taylor explained:

“The role of the wellbeing ambassadors is that we are here to support students’ mental health and wellbeing as much as we can. Today being Wellbeing Day is based around supporting the students on campus and giving them a break when they come out of lectures.”

Credits: Rebel

I spoke to volunteer and breeder, Claire Taylor, who explained how Essex Therapy Dogs was set up almost a year ago by 5 people already volunteering for bigger charities.

“We wanted something local that meant something to us. We all know each other which is great, and all the dogs know each other.”

Students at the event spoke about how seeing the dogs boosted moral.

“It made my day so much better. I think if you’re stressed, it’s so nice to just chill with them.”

The local therapy group visits people in various establishments, such as care homes, schools, and hospitals, to provide comfort, help, and support. Claire continued:

“It’s just to bring joy and happiness and, as you walk into a building you just feel the atmosphere lifting. Everyone loves stroking dogs, and it’s been proved time and time again that the very act of stroking a dog lowers your blood pressure.”

The dogs, now totalling at around 140 within the group, are assessed based on their personalities and if they would be suitable for the role.

“We are here whether you want a dog to come and visit or whether you want your dog to be assessed.

“We will visit anywhere; we will go wherever anyone needs us.”

For more information on both physical and mental benefits, as well as the story behind the group, visit www.essextherapydogs.co.uk.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top