Next week we have two very special volunteers in the final of Scruffts. If you’re at Crufts this year, we hope you’ll join us is supporting Dr. Emma Williamson and Honey as they take to the stage.

Growing up, Emma Williamson always knew she wanted to help people. Emma’s family were forever helping those in need – those on two legs and four. The Williamson household was a sanctuary for rescue pets of all shapes and sizes.

Emma followed a path into Psychology, eventually becoming a Registered Psychologist and after completing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (CPsychol) at the University of Surrey – Dr. Emma Williamson is now working to help homeless people.

Emma manages a team of psychologists from for South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, who in partnership with Thames Reach homeless charity and the London Borough of Lambeth, help those with entrenched issues, who have frequently experienced serious trauma and for whom the streets are all they know.

Some time ago Emma joined Pets As Therapy as a volunteer. From childhood, she understood the therapeutic benefit animals can bring to those in need. Her work with the homeless, who often keep animals for company and protection, required some help of the four-legged kind. Two years ago, Emma met Honey, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross. Honey was initially nervous having been rehomed several times. However, with Emma’s years of experience with animals, they fast became the best of friends and began working with her homeless clients.

Dr. Williamson understands that speaking with clinical professionals can often be challenging for people who have been street homeless. Sometimes there are trust issues as a result of trauma and abuse and other barriers associated with mental health. She has also come to understand the important role dogs can play in developing trust with this population and bridging the gap into support for some of the UK’s most vulnerable people. Honey, while providing a valuable therapeutic service, also breaks down barriers between client and clinician – when the conversation topic turns to Honey’s favourite treats! Sometimes the homeless client simply feels at ease talking with Honey if the topic becomes too emotionally hot and they want to focus on something soothing and distracting for a few moments; slowly building up their capacity to engage in a non-threatening way.

Last Year Dr. Williamson decided to enter a local Dog Show in south London where her and Honey live.  Unfortunately, upon arriving late she realised her and Honey had missed their opportunity, so she decided to seek out another fun Dog Show – and discovered Scruffts a Cross Breed Show organised by the Kennel Club. Emma and Honey entered a regional heat and won. Not bad for a first attempt.

The final of Scruffts will be at Crufts between 8-11th March. Emma and Honey will be representing the Best Crossbreed Rescue category. We hope she’ll give Pets As Therapy a mention too! We’re very proud of Emma and Honey, we hope you’ll get behind us in supporting them at ScrufftsÔ this coming March.

If you’d like to find out more about Dr. Emma Williamson’s incredible work you can follow her on Twitter @Dr_EWilliamson, as well as Honey herself @TherapyDogHoney. If you think you’d could volunteer with homeless people, contact your local Homelessness Services or visit Homeless Link:

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Photo credits for this story: Sportsbeat / Richard Bunce @WalkingPhotographer. All rights reserved.

If you’re at Crufts this year, please come and see us on Stand 188 and join us is supporting Dr. Emma Williamson. The Scruffts Competition will take place at Crufts 2018, the worlds largest dog show, between the 8-11th March 2018 at Birmingham NEC.

We are also running some incredible competitions this year at Crufts, find out more about of PAT ‘RUFF’le here: you could win some incredible prizes such as this Doggy Hamper worth over £400!