Common ground is a safe place to be.
This month Dog Rescue Newcastle and NDIS provider My Goal launched an adorable partnership, matching dogs with people with disabilities.
On a recent Friday morning, two NDIS participants and two carers met Sassy (English mastiff) and Sullivan (collie).
This is the first time the two organisations have united and they plan to make it a fortnightly meeting.
"It was really good. I hadn't spent a lot of time with people with disabilities," Dog Rescue Newcastle marketing manager Jesse Reinhard says. "It was really good to see how carers come out with a dog. There was a lot of engagement. One guy didn't want to come, but he got there and stayed the entire time and walked the dog.
"Another guy was with Sassy. He was laying on her, you could just see he was genuinely excited."
Dean Kidd, managing director of My Goal, says the organisations have shared values.
"Dog Rescue Newcastle are trying to give to people in need, and we have people in need," he says.
The partnership is Dog Rescue Newcastle's first outreach program with NDIS.
Reinhard says she is excited to integrate the benefits of having rescue dogs with helping isolated people. The collaboration allows participants to experience dog walking, basic training, grooming and engagement.
Kidd says My Goal works hard to ensure their services provide meaning and purpose to their participants. There's therapeutic benefits in animals and people living with disabilities. Most of their participants have autism, but they support a variety of people with different disabilities.
The initiative is also about getting people outside. The pandemic has caused disruption to the routine of many My Goal participants and decreased opportunities for them to access the community. It's required them to adapt. Kidd is excited to see the Friday activity become part of participants' routine.
"People with autism have to adapt all the time to how people prefer to communicate, adapting to the environment," Kidd says. "Our guys have done extremely well."
Reinhard also says that science indicates having an animal in your life, even for just one day, increases feelings of wellbeing. In the future they hope to expand Dog Rescue Newcastle to other NDIS providers with visits to nursing homes, veterans and anyone with PTSD.
"It's a small step, but we're working towards a long-term partnership with My Goal," he says.
My Goal began in 2016. They're based in Charlestown and have over 50 staff. They typically work with 30 to 40 participants, giving individual support and providing meaningful and purposeful activities.
Dog Rescue Newcastle was established in 2008 as a no kill, not-for-profit organisation. It's volunteer-run and rehomes thousands of dogs and cats every year. Their dogs come from death row pounds, risky situations and private surrenders. Their volunteers and foster carers are based all over the Hunter, and they're always looking for more.
To learn more: call 1800 4 MY GOAL.