Alison Samways is familiar to many Cheltenham residents, if only by name. She has helped to organise all sorts of community activities and can often be found litter picking or tree planting in the local parks. Now she has combined her love of animals with all things community to create her inclusive venture.
Unable to find a job that would fit around her caring duties, Alison founded a dog walking, training and pet sitting business in 2017.
“My housemate is one of the directors,” Alison says. “She has a long-term health condition and I’ve learnt a lot through supporting her and her assistance dog.”
Since then, Alison has turned her attention to making sure that people with health, sensory or mobility requirements are given the help they need to look after their furry friends.
“Pets are really important for helping with isolation and loneliness,” she says. “Having my puggle has helped a lot with my anxiety and depression. It’s about making sure people get the benefit of an animal companion without being restricted by their impairment.”
Pets and Wellbeing Support, or PAWS), ensures that pet owners can ask for help with a wide range of things – from dog exercising and training through to pet sitting, taking animals to the vets, and financial support.
“I’ve visited pets before who are in need of a walk or who clearly need a coat or nail trim,” says Alison. “We’re happy to help maintain pet hygiene and even to do people’s gardening if that’s something they need help with.”
She has arranged a way for owners to club together to cover the costs of delivery of pet supplies.
“Ordering online is great for people who can’t drive or get out easily, but it often comes with an added postage cost.”
Alison finds that the support many pet owners are seeking is to be able to talk to someone.
“My housemate finds it difficult to go for group walks because most routes aren’t physically accessible for her,” she says. “So, I decided to set up inclusive walks in Cheltenham. You don’t have to have a dog to come along, it can be for people who want to be around them. It’s a great way for people to walk and talk.”
The walks are planned with accessibility in mind with routes that are level and stick to paths. They last about an hour and take place on alternate Fridays.
“We meet at 10 o’clock at Elmfield Park and I adapt the walks to what the group wants to do.”
To find out more, visit Alison’s You’re Welcome profile here.