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The K9 Project – and one of its users – win European Social Fund awards

By Ely News  |  Posted: June 11, 2014

Chris Kent, right, pictured at The K9 Cafe with some of the users and dogs.

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A charity - and one of the many young people it has helped - have both won prestigious awards.

Not only has The K9 Project scooped a European Social Fund Project Award, but one of its users, Phil McCormick, who lives in Ely, has won the European Social Fund Individual Award for the East of England.

The charity, which is run by husband and wife, Kev Willats and Chris Kent, from Wilburton, uses the unique bond between humans and dogs to help people of all ages in East Cambridgeshire.

Programmes run by the charity include a voluntary dog walking scheme, a 12-week group work programme and community-based family orientated dog training.

Activities include a mixture of individual mentoring and group work sessions, and many also include a fundraising element where group members take on different roles which they can then add to their CVs.

The dogs provide a key learning tool but have also been found to have a therapeutic effect on participants.

When Phil first went to the K9 Project, which receives support from the European Social Fund, he was so shy that he hid behind his hair, never making eye contact and avoiding speaking to anyone.

He committed to completing the course, returning six months later as the course directors felt he would be an excellent volunteer.

In May of last year, Phil participated in the Cambridgeshire Adult Learning Celebrations, and although he was very nervous, he agreed to give a speech on stage in front of 100 people.

His speech was described as inspirational, and Phil believes that this was a turning point in his journey.

Demonstrating how far he has come, Phil has recently secured a full-time job.

Speaking about his award, he said: “The K9 Project has been with me all the way, from the first step out of the house to the day I gave a speech.

“K9 has also helped me with interview skills, CV writing and general self-presentation – giving me the confidence to start looking for work.”

The K9 Project has also recently launched a weekly drop-in cafe for people and dogs.

The K9 Cafe is held at the Ely Cathedral Centre, in Palace Green, every Thursday from 10am-12pm.

For more information about the charity, call Chris on 07990 504994 or visit www.k9project.co.uk.

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