Every Dog has its day

Suffolk Dog Day, Helmingham Hall - Sunday July 27 

It’s one of the best days of summer and this year Suffolk Dog Day looks to be bigger than ever. Anne Gould looks at what to expect this year and some of the charities it supports

The feats of loyalty, love, courageousness and bravery of our canine companions have long been the stuff of legends and tall tales. Beyond the numerous ways they work for us and support us in daily life there many dogs of all shapes, sizes and colours who would cheerfully go to the ends of the earth to protect their masters and mistresses. And, while your cossetted pet will hopefully never be pressed into this sort of extreme duty every year they can make a huge difference to the lives of people living in Suffolk.

Attending Suffolk Dog Day - this year on July 27 - in the historic and beautiful grounds of Helmingham Hall helps to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Suffolk Community Foundation. Over the last six years the event has generated more than £285,000 which has been handed out to numerous small charities, social enterprises and organisations throughout the county.
The Foundation says this year Dog Day, sponsored by Adnams and Shadwell Stud, will be bigger and better than ever before with 8,000 people plus dogs expected to attend.

There are going to be more stalls and attractions than ever before with star attraction the motorcycle stunt team, Inch Perfect. Of course everyone’s dogs are also going to be stars of the show with a whole range of fun classes - the waggiest tale, the most beautiful eyes, the best crossbreed and the coolest dog. There’s also the Doglympics, agility trials, fly ball, cross fun scurry, gun dog scurry and catch the rabbit and if all that sounds too energetic there’s always shopping for dog-centred treats.

Supporting this event allows Suffolk Community Foundation to support many causes and among those to benefit recently are these three very worthwhile examples:

Suffolk Dyslexia Association

These days a child with dyslexia, a developmental learning difficulty connected to problems with reading, comprehension and writing, is usually picked up in infants school. With the correct intervention and specialist teaching many young people with dyslexia these days learn strategies to overcome their difficulties and can achieve educational, academic and career success.

But, it wasn’t always like that - with the result that today there are many adults who struggled through school being unable to read and in their lives at work and at home may have not fulfilled their potential. However since 1986, thanks to teacher Daphne Ford, adults with dyslexia have been helped with reading and literacy through the Suffolk Dyslexia Association and a recent grant, of £1,500 allows her to continue to do this on a one to one basis.

She explained that last year four of the adults she’d been helping had done so well they’d been able to get jobs and a further three passed exams that they had failed before. Currently, says Daphne, she has nine students but over the course of the last year she has helped 20 people in all, most of whom are in their 40s or 50s. 

Her teaching covers a specialist programme designed for dyslexics starting with all the single letters of the alphabet. The lessons, which are free, also cover memory exercises and the like and then progress to reading and spelling. Students attend once a week and the length of the courses depends on their progress. “Being able to read helps these people enormously with their self-confidence. I’ve just had one man who’s read his first book and for him it’s an incredible achievement.”

Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid

Domestic Abuse is a growing problem with seven women and two men killed every month in this country from a partner or former partner. Many more suffer years of physical, mental and emotional abuse before finding the strength to move on to a new life and it’s this that the £2,000 donated by Suffolk Community Foundation is being used for.

Annie Munson, the manager at Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid explained they run a 23 bed refuge for eight women and their children but also operate a drop in centre. “This money allows us to do a lot of essential add-ons that we do not get as part of our core funding.” For example, like Women’s Aid centres around the country they run what’s known as ‘The Freedom Programme’ aimed at helping women recognise the many, varied and subtle forms of domestic violence that take place.
“Thanks to the Suffolk Community Foundation we are able to give everyone who attends the course a book which supports the programme.” she said.

Also the money allows them to run courses to help women’s self confidence - with things like coffee mornings where new skills in crafts and cooking are learnt. In all, Annie says 25 women attend their weekly Freedom Programme with a further dozen or so at the coffee mornings. These things make a big difference to their lives and help them take the next step to a safer future and break the cycle of abuse.


Suffolk Refugee Support Forum

Based in Ipswich this charity supports about 600 people every year who have been forced to flee from their own country for political or religious reasons. Operations Manager Rebecca Crerar, says that Suffolk Community Foundation has been incredibly supportive of everything they do. Everyone who comes to them for help had been through an incredibly rigorous vetting procedure to be allowed to stay in this country - most have had to flee for fear of death in their home state.

A large proportion of people they see are Iraqui Kurds but in total they support people from more than 40 nationalities. “Our most recent grant from the Foundation was for £1,000, which will pay for childcare for women who are receiving English lessons.” She explained that many of these women are the spouses of refugees and they come here with limited amount of English. Not only do they struggle with the language but sometimes they don’t understand the basic of our rules and regulations and their rights and responsibilities. With children, who will be going off to school, it’s essential that these women learn the language and through their International Women’s group learn how to live here. For example, she explained, many had young children and as a result often have to see a doctor but they don’t understand that in this country you need call your local GP - rather than going to the hospital, for example. 
Suffolk Refugee Support Forum, which is based in St Matthews Street, Ipswich also offers a drop in centre for the 2,000 refugees who live in the town.

Suffolk Dog Day 
Tickets: Adults, £8 but £7 in advance. Family tickets are £22 but £20 in advance.



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