Friday, 7 June 2019

Volunteers’ Week 2019: What’s it like to volunteer for Cats Protection?

Cats Protection wouldn’t be able to help so many unfortunate cats and kittens across the UK if it wasn’t for our incredible team of over 11,000 volunteers who generously give their time, knowledge and skills to our cause.

Volunteering at Cats Protection centres across England, Scotland and Wales is being supported this year by players of People’s Postcode Lottery who have enabled the charity to employ Volunteer Team Leaders who unite, support and nurture volunteers at the centres.
 
For Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) we asked just some of our volunteers (and Volunteer Team Leaders) what a typical day in their roles is like and what they enjoy most about being part of the UK's biggest community of cat lovers.

Meet some of our Cats Protection heroes 


Jess Gibson – Volunteer Team Leader at Tyneside Adoption Centre 

two women in Cats Protection t-shirts with a ginger kitten on their laps
Jess (left) with volunteer Gabrielle and one of the kittens at the centre
“A typical day at the centre begins at 8am when I sit down with the rest of the team for our morning briefing to plan ahead for the day. For the first few hours I scan my inbox and address any urgent emails, reply to volunteer enquiries and catch up on paperwork. Our Cat Care Volunteers arrive around 8.30am so I’m there to greet them and to brief them on any cat care developments and just have a chat in general to make sure everyone is happy. Nothing beats speaking to your volunteers face to face!

"Gabrielle arrives just in time for the morning break. Gabrielle is one of our lovely volunteers who enjoys that extra bit of support from me. We make the teas and coffees ready for the staff and volunteers to sit down and enjoy a cuppa and a cheeky biscuit together and chat about the cats.”

Jenny Gill – Cat Care Assistant at Eastbourne Adoption Centre 

woman in a Cats Protection t-shirt giving a black cat a chin rub
Jenny with chatty cat Alfie 
“Alfie is an all-black, chatty 13-year-old cat who likes to watch what we do and comment as we go! He is very confident and friendly but all cats have their individual characters and some are very shy or overwhelmed by being newly in care so we take care not to unsettle them. We also take careful note of any behaviour, toileting or food/water intake changes because cats are very good at hiding their pain and any change can highlight that something might be wrong.”

John Porter – Cat Care, Driving and Gardening Volunteer at Eastbourne Adoption Centre 

Man with beard in a Cats Protection t-shirt sitting outside on a bench
John taking a break from his green-fingered volunteering
“This afternoon I’ll be spending time maintaining the centre’s garden – which keeps it looking nice for both potential adopters and the cats who can look out onto it from their pens. At the moment I have my eye on tidying up an unruly patch behind the maternity wing!

"It’s important for the garden to look good for outdoor events such as our Summer Fayre (on 7 July – do come along between midday and 3pm). In fact it was a fayre that first got me thinking about volunteering. I’d been retired from my job as a motor mechanic for two years when I came to one of the fayres and they mentioned needing volunteers – that was three years ago and I’ve never looked back!”

Kathryn Graves – Secretary for Chiltern Branch 

One woman, two young girls and a cat sitting around a garden table
Kathryn (left) with DofE volunteers Abbie and Daisy and Eddie the cat
“Once a week after work, I meet up with Abbie and Daisy who are volunteering with us for their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. Thanks to them we have an Instagram account, @chilterncats and we spend an hour planning what photos they will post over the course of the week. Abbie's cat, Eddie, likes to join us.”

Adrienne Girvan – Volunteer Kitten Socialiser at Glasgow Adoption Centre 

woman in Cats Protection t-shirt holding a white kitten
Adrienne with Ingrid the kitten who she has helped to socialise 
"I originally came to Cats Protection to buy a calendar back in November 2011... it was a Christmas shopping expedition with a very unusual outcome! I now volunteer from 2-5pm, Monday-Wednesday, socialising kittens so they are confident young cats when they go to their new homes.”

Susan Anthony – Paws to Listen Volunteer 

blonde woman with a tabby cat on her lap
Susan and her 'Personal Assistant' Tabitha the cat
“I have been a volunteer for the Cats Protection Paws to Listen grief support line for about two years. Having stumbled across the possibility, I just knew it was something I really wanted to do. I volunteer from home, often having to fight my cat Tabitha for use of my PC, desk and chair.

"A typical shift involves calls from, or call backs to, often distraught people who have suffered or are anticipating the loss of a much-loved cat. This can involve a natural death or euthanasia, an accident, the need to rehome or a missing cat. Every call is different and the emotions felt by each caller are individual, but almost all of them express gratitude for the opportunity to discuss their feelings and to be listened to by someone who understands their distress and will never judge. It can sometimes be an emotionally draining role but it is always hugely rewarding knowing that I have helped someone in pain even just a little bit.”

Tina – Shop Volunteer for Worcester Branch 

woman sorting through a rail of clothes in a charity shop
Tina helps sort the stock in the Worchester shop
"Being a volunteer helps boost your confidence on a developmental level. Providing good customer service is also key and a good thing to add to your CV. I have progressed onto becoming a key holder and am starting to learn some managerial skills, which will hopefully further my career in the future.

"I work in many aspects of the running of the shop, from sorting donations, taking cash and card payments on the till to completing displays in window and around the store. If you’re thinking about becoming a volunteer or are new to the area, please do pop in to see the manager. You get plenty of tea and coffee while working… always a bonus! And you will make new friends at the same time.”

If you would like to know more about volunteering for Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering to find opportunities to help cats in your area.

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