Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another poor little mite

She's about three years old and was rescued by a policeman who saw her in the street being kicked in the head by her owner. Richard, our inspector, and the kennel staff, all say she's a lovely natured dog in spite of her background of abuse.

Of course, she is another Staffie.

Her owner would not cooperate by giving us any information which might help in rehoming her, not even to tell us her name.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

10A Market St. starting to look good

Work in progress 
10A Market St - some work on the exterior still not quite finished
If you would like to help in the shop, or to drop off some donations, please email

Never blog when your temperature is more than 100 degrees

Naturally readers who can do subtraction will have noticed that 14 minus 1 = 13 not 5.

Our new shop at 10A Market Street, Newmarket is opening on Monday, 14th February, 12 days from now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Five days to go

Only five days now until our shiny new charity shop opens at 10A Market Street, Newmarket.

Many thanks to RSPCA HQ for demonstrating their confidence in us by giving us a loan of £18,000 to fit it out.

Lorna and Val have been working hard putting up the new rails and shelving, and the gift aid tills should be delivered on Friday.

Monday, January 31, 2011

So, you've joined an RSPCA Branch Committee?

The first thing that will probably strike you is that there's a lot of paperwork and that meetings are run to a fixed agenda that may seem bureaucratic until you get used to it. Meetings start by reading through the minutes of the previous meeting and checking that everyone agrees they are an accurate record. This may appear tedious, but it's vital to have written proof of what was actually agreed if there are problems later on.

A branch committee meeting is only allowed to make decisions if there are at least 4 elected committee members present.

The next thing is that really quite frighteningly large sums of money are involved. In our case the bill for animal boarding runs at roughly £2,000 each month. The basic fee to staff our animal clinic is £2,500 and on top of that there are costs for veterinary treatment of the animals we take in and general items like rates, heating and repairs. 

As a branch, our life is a constant balancing act between not going bust altogether and constant demands to find, "just another £200" in order to save an animal's life.

The trouble is that ONE payment of £200 is not much in relation to our turnover BUT £200 repeated every day would finish us off unless we can increase our income.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Is anybody out there?

I sometimes feel that way, and evidently RSPCA HQ are the same as that's the heading of their latest volunteer survey.

If you do volunteer for the RSPCA, I urge you to complete the online form - especially if there are things you would like to see changed or have irritated, annoyed or upset you. If we don't KNOW about problems we can't fix them.

If you are a volunteer and you complete the form you'll be entered into a draw to win a day out with one of the inspectors.

In some ways the people we really need to ask are the ones who considered volunteering and either never got started or else drifted away. It came up on the i-volunteer discussion board a few days ago and, allowing for the fact that this was just one person's experience, one problem that can be fixed seems to be an explanation of why volunteers can't automatically attend and vote at branch committee meetings or vote at the branch AGM and what they need to do if they would like to get more involved in decision-making.

RSPCA branches are registered charities in their own right, governed by the RSPCA Rules for Branches, and ultimately by the Charity Commission. We can't simply re-write the rules to suit ourselves, or the result would be chaos, and because large amounts of charity funds are involved there have to be set procedures to specify who is eligible to elect the committee. Committee members are personally responsible for proper management of branch funds (and could ultimately be made to pay them back if things went really wrong). If random people could attend committee meetings and vote there would be no way to hold them to account, and it would be very awkward if it was possible to come to a meeting, push through some hugely expensive project and then leave everyone else to cope.

If you are an existing volunteer, or a new one, and are interested in taking part in decision-making at local or national level, the first thing you need to do is to join the RSPCA. (Make sure you request that your details are passed on to the local branch and that you become a branch member as well as a national one).

Three months after your application has been processed, you will be eligible to vote and stand in branch elections. You should automatically be sent details of the date of your own branch's Annual General Meeting (which is where the elections take place) and a nomination form which you can use to submit yourself as a candidate for election to the committee. You need to get supporting signatures from two other branch members (usually if you contact the existing committee they will be only too delighted to arrange this as most committees are short of members). 

For a valid election the branch AGM must be attended by at least 10 members and each committee member needs to receive at least 50% of the votes of those present in order to be elected (members can vote for as many candidates as they like, but can only place one vote per candidate).

Once you have been elected, your troubles will be only just starting...