Homelessness charity, St Mungo’s is urging dog owners across the UK to get active and Take the Lead in helping to end homelessness this summer. The charity is asking dog owners to walk 26.2 miles with their furry companions throughout the month of August.

The fundraising challenge is being supported by leading brands Lily’s Kitchen and Nationwide Building Society, as well as dog loving comedian and television presenter Paul O’Grady. Amongst the well-known faces will also be Instagram sensations, Marcel the Corgi and Bun the sausage dog, who along with other participants are aiming to raise £12,000, and walk a collective total of 4,266 miles – one mile for every person found rough sleeping on a single night in England last year.

As one of the leading homelessness charities in England to accept pets into their hostels, St Mungo’s recognise the hugely powerful and emotional support that animals can bring to someone who is sleeping on the streets. During this coronavirus, many people have valued the companionship and support of their pets at a time of increased loneliness and isolation.

Most recently, St Mungo’s teams have been working round the clock to support vulnerable rough sleepers out of hotels, where they have been self-isolating during the pandemic, and into permanent accommodation. So far, more than 300 people have been helped to move in to longer term accommodation, with more being supported by the charity every single day and this is just one of the many wonderful projects that your fundraising efforts will go towards helping.

 Petra Salva OBE, Director of Rough Sleepers, Ex-Offenders and Migrant Services at St Mungo’s says: “I am signing up to Take the Lead with my dog, Nero. We will be taking on the marathon distance virtually, but united as a team to help end homelessness. St Mungo’s is able to reduce barriers for someone coming off the street by accepting pets into our hostels and we recognise the powerful emotional support a dog can provide.”

Paul O’Grady says: “This challenge is a fantastic way to get outside with our dogs whilst helping to raise money for St Mungo’s and the brilliant work they do. As a dog lover myself, I know all too well about the incredible impact that they can have on people’s lives, especially during difficult times like these, and I am very pleased to be supporting such a great cause.”

Samantha Crossley, Head of Marketing at Lily’s Kitchen says: “Lily’s Kitchen is delighted to support St Mungo’s with their Take the Lead Challenge, which highlights the scale of homelessness in the UK today, with 4,266 rough sleepers in England alone.

“Not only that, but Take the Lead celebrates the special bond between dogs and their pup-parents, the special moments spent together each day exploring the world side by side. Lily’s Kitchen understands this relationship implicitly, as do St Mungo’s, which is why they ensure their clients are not separated from their beloved pets which can be an issue when finding safe accommodation.

“This is one of the reasons why we have loved supporting them over the years and look forward to doing so in the future.”

Dog walkers who think they can Take the Lead to support vulnerable people should visit takethelead.mungos.org for more information.