Vets in the Community are hitting the road in a brand new mobile clinic to boost the help they can bring to Big Issue vendors in Nottingham.
The student-led charity provides free veterinary care to the pets of homeless and vulnerably housed people, funded entirely by donations. Their new purpose-built trailer is the result of a two-year £30,000 fundraising campaign to create the first-of-its-kind mobile clinic. The project will improve access to their services on the streets of Nottingham and beyond.
It’s vital work – animal companions play a crucial role in the lives of Big Issue vendors, offering company and support while out on the street. Since Vets in the Community (VitC) was founded in 2012, students from the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have carried out well over 2,000 consultations, many of them for vendors.
Long-time seller Shane, 38, who sold the magazine at the event at yesterday’s launch, has described VitC’s work as a “godsend”.
Shane’s dogs – nine-year-old Siberian husky Mr Fang and one-year-old Bernese mountain dog Loopy Lou – have received free routine check-ups and treatment that would be prohibitively pricey to get elsewhere.
“Vets in the Community have been helping me for over a year from being on the streets through being in a hostel and, recently, looking for accommodation,” said Shane, whose regular pitch is on Clumber Street in Nottingham. “During our team being on the road, Mr Fang hurt his paw and VitC helped him out with that. They give him regular check-ups and help out with flea and deworming treatments.
“They’ve been incredible, what they are doing is an absolute godsend. They can’t do the big surgeries but for the minor things they are doing such an incredible thing and I really hope it catches on.
“I’ve always struggled with mental health problems but having the dogs in my world gives me a focus. They’ve been my rock when there hasn’t been anyone else and I like to think I’ve been theirs as well.”
Hundreds of veterinary students from the University of Nottingham – and, as of October 2019, neighbouring Nottingham Trent University – have volunteered to take care of homeless people’s pets though VitC’s fortnightly clinics.
The Big Issue has been a long-time partner to the charity, says our Midlands regional manager Holly O’Connor, having previously housed the charity in the Nottingham distribution office.
“Vets in the Community has been an incredible project to be a part of. It was a shame for us that we were no longer able to host it but what they have achieved in the last 18 months is amazing,” she said. “The mobile clinic will be a fantastic service for all those who access it as it will offer more reach than ever before. Thank you to Jenny Stavisky and the entire vet school for being so supportive of The Big Issue over the years and I look forward to us continuing to be a part of the project in the future.”
Dr Jenny Stavisky, a clinical assistant professor in the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, added: “Thanks to the tireless work from our team and their years of planning and fundraising, we have been able to buy this mobile clinic, which will mean we can take these sessions out on the road and allow us to reach even more people in need. This is even more impressive, given that it has been alongside the normal fundraising required just to keep our clinics up and running to provide this essential service to people and their pets.”