Those of you who are long-time followers of the blog will know by now that whenever there are prolonged periods between updates it means just one thing: things have been tough, so I’ve gone into hibernation! You see there’s nothing worse than reflecting on the work that we do when you can’t muster much hope and optimism about what’s going on. It doesn’t make for good reading nor lifts any spirits.

Let’s face it, we all know that the work of the RSPCA is tough. There are tough challenges on a daily basis but when the outlook persists at being grim,no-one wants to hear anyone moaning on; we want to be inspired, uplifted and enthused. But unfortunately March has really proven to be miserable and the longer I leave the blog, the less likely it is I’ll return to it. So, whilst there have been some delightful rainbows amongst the thunderous grey landscape it hasn’t been quite enough to raise much needed cheer. If you don’t want to read on, stop now!

As things currently stand we are facing financial problems on a scale that we’ve not seen in many, many years. We are down to just 3 months reserves, our shop income is significantly down, donations (monetary and shop related) are down and we’re not quite sure how much longer we can continue in this way before we have to consider a major revision to our operations.

To make matters just that bit more stressful we’ve seen a dramatic drop in a animal adoptions and if things continue in this vain the looming kitten season is going to see us having to close the doors before it even begins. We’ve rehomed one cat and one rabbit in two weeks; a far cry from the record adoption figures of last year.

I guess the obvious question to ask is ‘what does this all mean?’ It’s something you inevitably waste hours pondering over when the stress mounts and you search for hope. Maybe it’s the cold weather, pending Easter holidays, lack of consumer confidence or maybe it’s just that animals are a luxury few can afford these days. And so is charity.

Let’s face it, there’s few of us out there that haven’t had to scale back on our spending. So giving to charity is often the first thing to go, then there’s cutting back on clothes shopping and making do with what you’ve got, so you recycle less. It all amounts to one thing, doesn’t it? There’s just so little to go around.

I suppose what really compounds our situation is that whether we have funds or offers of homes the fact is that there is never an end to the animals in need of our help. The RSPCA cannot stop investigating and rescuing just because there are no funds or homes on offer. There is no-one else out there that does what we do, but for how long if things don’t improve?

As many of you know, branches are there to take in, rehabilitate and rehome the animals the national RSPCA inspectorate rescue. We are very good at what we do and we pride ourselves on our achievements and successes. But when you see dogs like Calvin, fully rehabilitated and well overdue a new home, it begins to become demoralising when they are still with us weeks down the line.

I thank myself so lucky for having such passionate and committed volunteers and staff. They lift my spirits no end when they excitedly report that a home visit has passed or a shy cat has come out of her bed for a cuddle or when they’ve had a good day in one of the shops. I don’t really know what I would do without their unwavering enthusiasm, because at the moment mine definitely is. Animals are what we all share in common, but it is the shared vision that really unites us and the belief that we can make a difference.

Of the little rainbows we have seen this month, two really stand out for me and are excellent examples of hope. We had our first staff baby arrive via our Animal Supervisor Catherine. Little Jasmine will be brought up as a compassionate, caring animal lover, which is just what we need from our future generations. And then there was Ted. 14 months of waiting patiently for a forever home, this awesome little chap’s wait was over and boy did he get lucky. Ted is now living as a house rabbit near Chester and whilst there was a big lump in our throat when he left,we really could not have been happier.

Thank you to all of you who are believers in what we do. We’ll keep on trying for as long as we can but I fear the future holds many changes ahead.

If you want to help make a very big difference you can do this by sparing just 2 hours of your time to help us collect money during RSPCA week on Fri 3, Sat 4, Sun 5 May. We will be collecting at Tesco stores in Prestwich, Parrswood and the new one on Chester Road in Stretford. All you have to do is hold a tin and smile. Up for it? Then please drop us an email believe it or not you could help us raise thousands.