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Medway schoolgirl’s therapy dog supports family during Covid-19 lockdown thanks to Tree of Hope charity

April 24, 2020

A school girl has had her life transformed thanks to her therapy dog and supporting charities.

Polly and her family, from Rochester, have found relief during the coronavirus lockdown because of therapy dog, Bailey.

Bailey has helped relieve the pressures of Polly’s ADHD and autism, thanks to Supporting Paws and fundraising charity Tree of Hope.

As lockdown continues and the threat of the coronavirus increases, it can be extremely stressful and difficult to manage for families of seriously ill and disabled children who have conditions to contend with on top of maintaining school routines.

At the age of nine, Polly was diagnosed with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and severe anxiety.

Now 12, her anxiety has grown progressively worse and affects her daily.

Polly’s parents searched for additional ways to support Polly with her autism and anxiety for 18 months, which led them to Supporting Paws, an assistance dog organisation in Kent. Polly was accepted onto their programme for a companion/assistance dog.

Polly and her therapy dog, Bailey
Polly and her therapy dog, Bailey

Needing to self-fund the dog, the family enlisted the support of registered children’s crowdfunding charity, Tree of Hope, to help them raise £8,000.

Tree of Hope has been in operation, providing this kind of support to more than 550 families annually, for more than27 years.

Polly’s conditions meant her family life was constrained. Polly never liked being outside, so going out as a family was both challenging and rare. The idea of a family weekend away was non-existent and simple everyday things like walking to the park or going to the shops have always been a struggle.

Since new family member Bailey has been around, every aspect of their lives has improved.

Polly’s mum, said: ‘“Bailey really is a part of the family. The measures we’re all having to take now in light of this outbreak, it’s hard to imagine what we would have done to get through it this time last year.

Polly's therapy dog, Bailey
Polly’s therapy dog, Bailey

“A year ago, Polly wouldn’t go outside, but now she willingly takes herself into the garden with Bailey when she needs to and does things because she wants to and has the support of Bailey.

“I can’t ask for anything more. To a lot of people, it’s not huge, but the bond Polly and Bailey have has made such a huge difference to Polly and our family life.

To find out more about Supporting Paws visit their Facebook Page for the fundraising charity Tree of Hope.

Tree of Hope is also asking supporters to enjoy digital dinner parties to help raise funds for other sick and disabled children like Polly.

Dine and Donate is now in its third year and has already raised more than £15,000 to help children all over the country, and this year, dinner parties will be held virtually via Zoom, Skype, Houseparty, Facetime and other digital platforms.

Whether you want to host a virtual afternoon tea, an online cocktail party or even a formal digital dinner, the event is a great excuse to get together with family and friends and help raise money for seriously ill and disabled children.

There are plenty of ideas for recipes and themes, and Tree of Hope would love you to share your ideas and events on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #WhatWillYouHost.

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