Let's hear it for... The Cinnamon Trust!


27 February 2024
Pet companionship is life-changing, particularly for older people. Thankfully, one charity does invaluable work to help keep senior citizens and their pets together.

We all know how much better life is with a cat, or two. Plenty of studies have been done on the benefits of pet ownership for people of all ages, from small children to pensioners.

For older people especially, having a pet can make a huge difference to their quality of life. Love, companionship, a reason to get up in the morning, a talking point when you have visitors… there are so many reasons pets are beneficial. However, as people get older, much-loved pets can also be a source of worry. There can’t be many of us who haven’t wondered what would happen to puss if Granny, or Mum, or even one of us, was ill and in hospital for a long time or had to go into a care or nursing home — or even if the worst happened and we passed away.

The Cinnamon Trust is a charity which was set up in 1985 in Cornwall by Mrs Averil Jarvis MBE to answer those questions. Its slogan, then and now, is: ‘Peace of mind  and practical help for people — love, care, and safety for pets.”

The Trust was named after Mrs Averil Jarvis’ MBE much-loved Corgi, Cinnamon and was run from her home with the help of a small group of volunteers. Now, the Trust has over 20,000 volunteers all over the country, a HQ in Hayle, Cornwall, and two sanctuaries in Devon and Cornwall. Last year, they helped 155,720 people with 156,076 pets.

Practical help

We asked Marnie Cude from The Trust what ‘practical help’ and ‘peace of mind’ actually mean and what Cinnamon Trust volunteers do.

“Anything that is needed, from dog-walking to changing the cat-litter and transporting pets to the vet,” she said. “We also provide a fostering service for pets whose owners face a spell in hospital. Volunteers take cats into their own homes and supply love and care until owner and pet can be reunited.

“One of the most important things we do is to reassure owners about the future of their beloved pets if anything should happen to them. People can register their cats, dogs or any companion with us to come into our care if they pass away or become unable to care for them because of ill health. Once registered, their pet's future is secure.

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Future secured

“We do not use kennels or catteries; the pets go into a volunteer’s home. Our pet profiling is very detailed, so this means we know as much as possible about a pet, including what kind of home they have come from, their likes and dislikes, what food they prefer and so on, we always do our best to replicate their lives and match them with the right family among our volunteers. This level of care and attention to their needs make placing them in a new home much less stressful."

“We can tell their new foster parent what their favourite foods are, where they sleep, how they like to be stroked, and any little quirks. We take favourite toys, scratching posts, and snuggly belongings to help any cat feel at home. We also pay vet bills for the rest of the pet’s life and provide holiday cover for them too.

“Our sanctuaries are for pets coming into our care that have medical needs or larger families who have to be kept together. They are a home-from-home with staff who live in and are on hand to provide 24/7 care.”

The Trust also specialises in matching up bereaved owners with bereaved pets, to the benefit of both. Anyone adopting an older cat from them need not worry about vet bills as they are paid by the Trust, and Marnie says that there is something very special about a mature moggie.

“An older cat makes a wonderful companion who has realised that staying out all night and leaping about is a waste of energy when you could be having a cuddle!” she says.

"Another tremendously useful service from the Trust is their register of pet-friendly care homes, which can be supplied to anyone worried about finding a suitable home for themself or an elderly relative. Many care and nursing homes these days realise that having pets around can help older people feel at home. Some have a resident cat, others allow newcomers to bring their own cat with them. The Trust’s volunteers can come in to help with cat care or take puss to the vet’s if required, leaving care staff to look after the human residents!

Feline family

Amy applied to foster a feline family. She learned that a home was needed for three cats whose original owners were anxious to know that they would be settled somewhere together. She says: “Three cat carriers and a whole lot of kitty paraphernalia arrived and I was instantly smitten when I met Amber and Teddy, both British Shorthairs, and Ozzie, a black Oriental Shorthair. It didn’t take long for their characters to begin to show. Teddy is definitely the bravest, Amber is an absolute sweetheart, and Ozzie was the most reserved at first, but it has been so rewarding to see him settle in. All three cats are an absolute joy to have around!”

Happy cat!

Another feline family — mum Mitzie and brothers Pepe and Maurie — have been fostered by Jane and Martin. It’s Maurie himself who has put paw to paper to tell Your Cat about his foster humans!

“You have done a good job, Cinnamon Trust!” Maurie says. “Our first human mum was not well and we spent a lot of time looking after her, sleeping as close to her as we could so she knew we were there. When she was sadly taken away from us, The Cinnamon Trust found us a new home and we moved to Norfolk. It was scary at first, especially for poor Pepe as he is very shy.”

What you can do to help

“We are the only national charity that helps the elderly and terminally ill with their pets,” says Marnie from The Cinnamon Trust. “

We never know where we are going to get a call from; it could be a call for help from Aberdeen one minute and Andover the next! So, we are always looking for new volunteers to help with cats, those who can foster for us on a short- or long-term basis. We also need more help on the practical side of things, for example transporting cats to the vet’s, grooming, and cleaning out litter trays, for older owners who can’t manage these tasks themselves."

More information:

If you would like to join The Cinnamon Trust volunteer team, please contact [email protected] or call 01736 757900.

If you visit www.cinnamon.org.uk you’ll see that supporters can become members for £10 a year (£5 a year for over-65s). There is also an online shop where you can buy T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other gift items, as well as treats for cats and dogs.