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Therapy dogs help soothe student exam stress

Four dogs from Therapy Dogs Nationwide are looking at the camera. Their tongues are wagging and they look happy.
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University students enjoyed a pre-exam season visit from some of the best stress relieving experts – dogs!

Last month, residents at a number of Student Roost properties, including The Towpath in Chester and Byrom Point, Capital Gate, and Apollo Court in Liverpool, spent an afternoon with Bella the Dachshund, Lottie the Golden Retriever and Martha the Leonberger, enjoying endorphin releasing cuddles, puppy playtime, and finding out about how animals are used as therapy pets to help relieve tension, stress, and anxiety.

Bella, a small dachshund (sausage dog) poses with her owner during a visit to Student Roost's Chester properties.
Bella the dachshund during a visit to The Towpath in Chester.

Over 20,000 residents from the UK and abroad choose Student Roost properties as their home during their university studies, with many of them leaving their friends, family, and even pets, for the first time.  

For those students who are taking important exams and need to de-stress, are anxious about being away from home for the first time, or just need a puppy cuddle when they need it the most, a visit from charities like Pets As Therapy or Therapy Dogs Nationwide is a date in the calendar everyone looks forward to.

Residents aren’t allowed to keep pets in their rooms or flats, and so events like this give students the chance to make some new furry friends.

Founded in 1983, Pets As Therapy are a not-for-profit charity which encourages pet visits in schools, businesses, prisons, care homes and hospices to enhance the health and wellbeing of the people who work at, use, and benefit from the services, help and advice available.

Therapy Dogs Nationwide is a charity which was founded in 2016, and is managed by volunteers who visit a range of establishments with their own dogs who have been specifically trained as therapy dogs.

Therapy pet visits are just one of many events which take place at over 50 Student Roost properties across the UK each year. Residents experience and take part in a range of events including yoga, film and pizza nights, tie dye t-shirt making, craft fairs, and pool tournaments.

As well as year-round events, all Student Roost residents can connect with other residents and housemates for advice or a quick chat via The Neighbourhood app, which helps people make friends before meeting in person at property events.

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year took place from 9 to 15 May, activities such as wellbeing jars, gratitude trees, spa evenings and positivity post boxes were available for all residents across Student Roost properties. Student Roost also organised a free mental health webinar for all its residents across the UK on 19 May, with the initiative BreatheUni.

Five volunteers from Therapy Dogs Nationwide pose with their dogs in a Student Roost social space in Liverpool
Therapy Dogs Nationwide volunteers with their dogs during a visit to a Student Roost property in Liverpool.

Hannah, a resident at The Towpath in Chester, which recently held a Pets As Therapy event, said:

 “I never miss a visit from Pets As Therapy, and I’m usually one of the first in the social space waiting for them to arrive! When the dogs are here, I can feel my anxiety and worries dissolving. It’s just so nice to have the opportunity to cuddle them and forget about coursework and exams for a few hours.”

Hana Warbrick, Regional Operations Manager for Student Roost, said:

“All of the events that we organise at our properties are well loved by our residents, but it’s safe to say the therapy dog visits are the most popular amongst both residents and team members!

“We’re lucky to have had a few visits from the volunteers and their dogs already this year, and it’s heart-warming to hear our residents talk about how much they love to see the dogs, especially during the stresses of exams and deadlines or if they’re having a tough time.

“Some of our residents attend the therapy dog events alone, which is not something that happens regularly at our other events. It’s wonderful for us to see that this event is appealing to residents who may not have a wide social circle, and there’s nothing better for our team members to see bonds and friendships grow through the love of dogs!”

Find out more about Student Roost properties at www.studentroost.co.uk

More information on Pets As Therapy and Therapy Dogs Nationwide can be found at www.petsastherapy.org and www.tdn.org.uk

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