HANOVER Housing Association, a leading retirement housing provider with properties in Bude including Ceres Court and Vicarage Drive, is celebrating being named as the first national housing organisation to achieve the RSPCA’s gold standard for its commitment to pioneering initiatives around animal welfare.

A decade on from launching its recognition scheme, the RSPCA has announced that Hanover had been awarded the highly coveted PawPrint gold award. While many social landlords do not encourage pets, Hanover has taken a different approach, encompassing pet plans alongside those for care.

Pet ownership is known to be beneficial to physical, social and psychological wellbeing among older people. Numerous studies have found that companion animals can lower blood pressure and help to regulate the heart rate during stressful situations, something which can lead to less reliance on the health system and a reduction of care costs.

Mark Lake, director of housing and support at Hanover, said: “Resident wellbeing is a top priority for us. For many years we’ve recognised that pets can provide great companionship and also give older people a greater sense of purpose, so it has been vitally important that we provide the right environment that allows that to happen.

“Being so pet friendly is one of our key strengths and is something that attracts many older people to live on a Hanover estate. We know there are many benefits — individually and collectively — as a result of residents owning pets, so we are obviously delighted to be the first national organisation to be awarded the gold standard.”

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor at RSPCA, added: “It’s great to see Hanover achieving our prestigious gold award. This is a real testament to the hard work of Hanover staff, their commitment to animal welfare and the health and happiness of their residents.”

Hanover also believes that looking after an animal can lower isolation for those who live alone. Such is the extremely pet friendly culture in place for residents, that nearly 50% of Hanover estates enjoy the benefits of pets. The variety housed across the country includes some 760 dogs, 538 cats and 130 birds.

For ten years, the RSPCA has sought to celebrate, promote and reward the work of housing providers and other bodies in a number of areas that improve animal welfare. This is the first time, however, that the world’s longest-serving animal welfare charity has awarded a national organisation a gold award for going above and beyond in the services they provide.