'We are fighting to save these defenceless, loving animals' - Financial pressure threatens Great Chishill rabbit rescue charity
PUBLISHED: 13:35 30 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:08 30 January 2017
A new mum from Great Chishill has said it is becoming increasingly likely she will be forced to close the rabbit rescue centre she founded in the village more than 20 years ago due to financial difficulties and lack of volunteers.
Caroline Collings has spent much of her life to the Rabbit Residence Rescue – working 14 hour days since she was 16 at the charity, which is now home to 130 rabbits.
“After years of dedicating my life to charity work and sacrificing the chance of having a family, I finally have a little baby boy, Theo,” the 38-year-old said.
“You don’t realise how many volunteers are needed for the amount of work I’ve put in and, now I am largely unable to because of looking after my son, I need people to come forward. If someone is skilled in a particular area I would look into payment, but we also really need volunteers.”
Caroline’s partner Travis is currently in Jamaica – unable to obtain a visa to live in Britain.
“After loving rabbits and worrying about other people and helping owners and bunnies all my life, it’s amazing to be loved back by my partner and son,” said Caroline.
“That basic instinct to have a family and be part of a unit is finally fulfilled, however it doesn’t stop me worrying about about the rabbits that need our help so badly.”
She said they have had some volunteers come forward since her appeal in the Crow in November, including a 66-year-old helping with DIY.
But, due to the rescue centre’s rural location, it has been difficult to maintain the numbers of volunteers required.
Caroline said: “Anyone who has the right attitude, who can muck in with work outside on our third of an acre of land is welcome. If you can help with fundraising, or even if you have room in your home to help us store supplies or items to sell at fundraising events, we would also be grateful to hear from you.”
Caroline has said that there are 64,000 rabbits abandoned every year in the UK, and passing her animals onto another charity would just put more pressure on those causes.
“Grants to apply for are few and far between,” she said.
“I work very hard in applying for these to keep us going on top of everything else I’m doing, and the rest comes from public donations.
“If we couldn’t pay vets bills, we would then have to consider euthanising some of the rabbits. The welfare of the remaining rabbits would suffer if there isn’t the staff, because you do struggle when there’s more than 100 rabbits to tend to every day.
“I’m stressed and my team are too – it’s a vicious cycle.
“People are buying and breeding on impulse and thinking we are here to pick up the pieces – not realising the emotional and mental strain it has on people like me and my team and what we give up in life to fight to save these voiceless, defenceless, loving animals.”
If you are able to help Caroline go to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.rabbitresidence.org.uk.