I know people read the blog to learn all about our animal activities. It is, after all, what we are all about. But as Branch Manager my role is far more diverse and encompassing than the rehabilitation and rehoming of society’s most needy of animals.

The title in itself is quite misleading. I am the manager of the charity. The charity being RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch. There are around 170 RSPCA branches in England and Wales that are all independent charities. Our role is to support the work of the national RSPCA by primarily taking in the animals its field staff, like the inspectorate, rescue.

All the branches operate differently and this is largely due to the wealth of each charity, which in turn is down to the level of public support and the bequest of legacies. Some branches can afford to own and run animal centres, some are so small that they are run entirely by volunteers, others, like ours, are somewhere in between. For those of you who don’t know, we do not have an animal centre but instead use private boarding facilities and a network of foster carers. We have two paid animal staff whose role it is to make sure the animals are successfully rehabilitated and rehomed, wherever possible.

I am responsible for every aspect of our charity’s work: from the admission/care/rehoming of each animal, the operation of 3 charity shops, all the charity’s admin and personnel matters as well fundraising and event organising. I’m also involved in a number of working groups within the national RSPCA (more about one of these in a week or two) and I am also the volunteer co-ordinator, a home visitor and foster carer in what little spare time that I have.

Daisy, new admission this week, Abandoned outside a vets heaviuly pregnant.

It sounds a mammoth task, and it invariably is, but without such breadth and depth to my work I would honestly be bored. But whilst the variety is genuinely the spice of life, at times it feels like a lead diving suit. These last few weeks have been really tough, and this last week in particular like walking through treacle. We have been experiencing unprecedented numbers of sickness amongst the staff, which has corresponded with plenty of staff annual leave. Keeping the three shops open has been the most incredible challenge and only due to the sheer will and determination of three amazing people. This week, bar two days, I have had to run the animal side myself. I’ve not done the prettiest of jobs – getting into the office for just an hour and there, or turning up to vet appointments looking muddy and dishevelled. But with sympathy and support an 12 hour days of bobbing around like a human ping pong ball I’ve managed, just about, to cope.

Working for a small animal charity, especially when you are in a management position, is not a job, it is your life. I rarely have time to myself, but it’s been like this for so long now that I’m not sure I’d know what to do with myself anyway! But it’s when things fall to pieces that it feels quite unbearable because it is down to me to sort it out and have all the answers. Today is no exception. I’d really like to put my feet up, or maybe even curl up in bed, but instead I have a day’s worth of book-keeping to do, some animals to go see to and a weighty decision to implement tomorrow.

But what really helps is knowing that there’s nothing special about me. There’s people up and down the country, around the world in fact, who do exactly the same as me day in day out. They don’t moan, they take it all in their stride and they get up each and every morning to continue the good fight. But what is special about me is the team I have behind me. From my trustees and staff, to foster carers, dog walkers, cat cuddlers, home visitors to shop volunteers; I have the most wonderful friends. There’s no such thing as ‘just a volunteer’ or ‘just a staff member’. Each and everyone is so much bigger than this to me. I’m lucky, very lucky. And I know it.

Who else would come out at 7pm on a Saturday night to try and catch an alleged abandoned rabbit (turned out to be a wildie!)? Who else would dog walk at 9am on their days off? Who else would take in too many furry pooing machines and turn a blind eye to furniture destruction in the process? Who else would give up their evenings and weekends travelling around to ‘vet’ potential adopters? Who else would spend hours serving customers and sorting through murky bags of donations? Who else would work for peanuts and beyond their contracted hours? The answer is simple: my team, the M&S Team. Without whom I wouldn’t want to be doing what I do.

Wild rabbit living by the Mancunian Way

So, the next time you hear someone denigrate the RSPCA please think about this blog and the effort that goes into achieving so much with so little. We are a small cog in a very big machine but we do the best we can and I’m proud of it. But I’m also never to proud to admit when I’ve got it wrong or could’ve done better. This week definitely fits in the ‘could’ve done better’ box but it’s not been from a lack of trying.

Dog walking  and vet runs have taken priority over office time