Volunteer as a branch trustee and make a difference for animals today
Are you interested in finding out what it takes to become a branch trustee and influence animal welfare on a local scale? Josie Woodward, our dedicated branch trustee from our London East branch, spills the beans on life as a volunteer RSPCA trustee.
Q. How long have you been a branch trustee for the RSPCA and how did you get involved?
A. I joined as a branch trustee for the London East branch formally in June 2019, but I had been involved as a volunteer since January 2019. I was looking to get more involved with charities and I felt that I could give back more if I became a trustee as I would have greater opportunity to positively influence the decisions of the charity. I found the job online and interviewed soon after. It seems to have been all go ever since!
Branches perform much of the direct animal welfare work. Each branch operates at a local level, offering advice, microchipping, neutering and subsidised animal treatments. Branches also rehabilitate and rehome animals taken in through their clinics, animal centres, boarding and fostering facilities. We're separately registered charities across England and Wales and run mostly by volunteers. Branches are also generally self-funded and raise money locally to support the animal welfare work they do.
Q. What does a typical day as a branch trustee look like?
A. Being a branch trustee is very involved, it's more of a hybrid between being in a management role for a small charity and being a trustee for a larger one. What I get involved in is really up to me and the focus of the branch at the time!
During my time with the branch, I've volunteered as the branch treasurer, producing the annual accounts, managed the branch social media account, and been involved in our rehoming and welfare processes. I even fostered two lovely kittens (Disco and Chipstick) over lockdown.
I'm currently in the process of designing a new google site for our branch, holding discussions with potential corporate partners, and planning a Christmas pub quiz - all with the support of my other six branch trustees. It really is what you make of it. If you want to start a new initiative, the team are very supportive, both at branch and national level.
Q. What's your favourite part about being a branch trustee?
A. Probably getting to care for all of our animals! You see some absolutely terrible cases that truly break your heart. Being able to care for animals in need, treat their illnesses and move them into their forever home is such a beautiful thing. Being an animal lover, getting involved with the RSPCA was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Q. What challenges have you had to overcome?
A. We have experienced a lot of different situations which have developed the knowledge of our trustees, especially since operating in a pandemic! We've trained up volunteers, investigated shop locations, ensured VAT and gift aid compliance, helped establish a pet food bank and beyond. With every bit of new territory, we have grown closer as individuals and as a team.
Q. Who can become a trustee?
A. Anyone! We're looking for people from a variety of backgrounds to improve the variety of ideas that we discuss and consider as a board. You have to be over the age of 18 in England and Wales to be a trustee, otherwise, the role is generally accessible to everyone.
We actually struggle to get people to apply to be a trustee! I think it's because animal lovers believe that they need certain qualifications or a specific background to be selected. However, what we're really looking for are people who are willing to put the time and effort in and who truly care about animal welfare.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a branch trustee?
A. I think it's a great learning opportunity for people who want to get involved with charities or who are looking to move onto a larger charity in the future. Just get started! Approach your local branch to volunteer or show interest in becoming a trustee - you'll develop so many skills along the way.
The RSPCA offer volunteer opportunities to suit everyone. Whether you're interested in becoming a dog walker, cat carer, branch driver or social media assistant! Perhaps you're a secretarial wiz, finance guru, keen manager or passionate coordinator - either way, there's a new challenge waiting for you here at the RSPCA.
Are you looking for a new challenge?
Please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.