Without doubt cat socialising, followed by rabbit socialising, are our two most in-demand roles! It is best suited to someone who is above all patient and has an understanding of animal behaviour. This is a hugely rewarding role but you must be adaptive and sensitive in your approach to each animal.
How long have you been volunteering for RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch?
July 2019, when the adoption centre opened.
What does your role involve?
Basically I spend my afternoons socialising with the rabbits. Initially you need to gain the trust of the fur babies. You have to remember some of these animals have become afraid of humans due to the way they have been treated before they come to us. Sometimes you can win them over pretty quickly with the promise of a treat but for others it can take many weeks to gain their trust. You need to have bags of patience and let the rabbit come to you on their terms.
We try to come up with inventive ways to create enrichment toys for the rabbits, giving them things to do while they patiently wait to be rehomed. It’s amazing what you can do with a few toilet rolls and fruit tree branches. I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor (freezing to death in winter), surrounded by wee and poop but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it.
What are the highlights of the role you do?
There are many highlights to my role. Watching animals who come into our care, too frightened to even come out from their hiding place, transforming into happy, friendly bunnies who come to greet you when you come to sit with them. Neglected bunnies that come into our care and are nursed back to health. Seeing a bunny find their forever home.
What are the challenges of your role?
The challenges I face personally with my role is the emotional attachment I make with the bunnies. As much as I should be happy when a bunny is adopted, I am also tinged with a little sadness that I won’t see them again. I also find it difficult when we lose a bunny to illness.
What do you get out of volunteering?
I like to think I’m making a difference, even if it is for just a couple of hours a week. I have found being able to immerse myself with the rabbits has helped me greatly during the national lockdowns, giving me a purpose and getting me out of the house for a few hours.
Have you gained any skills and/or knowledge from your volunteering?
I have a better understanding of the needs of rabbits and how to care for them. I have discovered just how much hard work and dedication goes into running a charity.
If someone was thinking about joining the team what would you tell them?
If you are considering a role with the centre I would say give it a go; it’s immensely rewarding. Make sure you buy some thermal underwear for the winter months. No two days will be the same, there will be some low points but there will also be many, many high points. It can be tough and you will need your ‘big girl pants’ sometimes but we do a lot of laughing too. It’s a lovely place to be.
How much time do I need to commit to the role?
For a role like this you need to be able to commit to at least 2 hours per week, if you can do more I’m sure they wouldn’t say no. As with any volunteer role you have to treat it like a job and commit to it, after all the rabbits NEED YOU!
Interested in this position?
We welcome engagement with people from across the community and proactively embrace equality, diversity and inclusion, so if you would like to join the team please be rest assured you will be welcomed with open arms. We are open to learning how we can adapt our workplaces and include more people to support us with the vital work that we do.
We aim to:
Treated everyone with dignity and respect
Respond positively to different needs and circumstances so that everyone can achieve their potential