Since the K9 project first began in 2007 I have been proud to have developed several community projects.

These included a volunteer dog walking scheme (K9 Walk Support); an employability skills programme,(Funded by the European Union Social Fund), and a project supporting local dog owners taking referrals from Housing Associations, Social Workers and RSPCA Inspectors – which was financially supported by the Kennel Club.

Our flagship community project is The K9 Community Cafe – a weekly drop in for people and dogs in Ely.

Originally set up by as part of the K9 Projects range of supportive activities it has now evolved to the extent it is run by a small group of K9 Volunteers.

The K9 Cafe is now a community group and the volunteers are the trustees who direct the future development of the Cafe.

We meet every Thursday at the Ely Cathedral Conference Centre, Palace Green for a relaxed, safe and informal environment for dogs,their well behaved owners and people without dogs who enjoy being with them. The cafe is a special and unique place, with a diverse group of people attending regularly. We are truly inclusive and it is usual to find young people, elderly people, those with mental health problems, people with learning difficulties, people whose life circumstances do not allow them access to dogs, and people who love to bring their dogs along to share with others. It is a busy and vibrant place with a strong community identity. Informal support systems grow organically from the relaxed ,pressure free atmosphere and the wealth of personal experiences people bring along.

We also have occasional sales of goods to raise funds, organise community dog walks, fun activities for our younger visitors in the school holidays, provide volunteering opportunities, work experience and support special events, hold raffles and fun competitions.

This past year we were chosen by Starbucks for support as one of their community cafes. We work in partnership with other community organisations and are grateful to be supported by our local Learning Disability Partnership.

I have also been very happy to help Ramsey Neighbourhood Trust set up their very own K9 style cafe called The Dogs Meet which is proving much needed and very successful.

If you would like some help setting up a K9 Cafe in your area please contact me – or buy the downloadable “Guide to setting up a K9 Community Café” from the resources section.