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Today is International Day of People with Disabilities, and to celebrate this day, we are sharing Zana Collins’ story.

Zana is one of our Partnership Coordinators and her husband Stuart told us a little about the struggles she faces- along with the support she gets from her lovely service dog Flora!

“My wife Zana has struggled due to her Deafness throughout her life, constantly relying upon others for assistance with mundane tasks that we take for granted ourselves. This in turn can be a disheartening experience resulting in loss of confidence and independence.

However, Zana applied for an assistance dog 5 years ago. She was told at the time it would likely be a long wait due to their increasing demand by hearing-impaired people and the small numbers of dogs fully trained to fulfil this role.

Now Flora has become a member of the family. I can see some similar traits between the two of them like watching as Flora carefully walks around muddy puddles as neither likes getting their feet/shoes dirty or both liking to have an early evening nap as both get tired from their continuous concentration (Zana having to lip-read every one and Flora to remain ‘on call’ in case she is needed).

Even in a very short space of time, it is wonderful to see the impact that Flora has had on Zana. She is much more aware of visitors coming to the door or one of us arriving back after work. She also doesn’t worry as much about oversleeping now and now brings a big smile on her face to be woken up by Flora excitedly jumping on the bed; licking her face and seeking a belly rub.

All of this enables her to feel more included and able to be more independent, reducing isolation and improving confidence. “