We are no longer snowed under but yes I'm snowed under!!!
I have now officially retired, as being a WASPI woman, I have waited an extra 6 years to draw my old age pension. I sometimes put my head in my hands and wonder what retirement actually looks like! 4 years ago I was circling the M25 everyday collecting dog from where ever East London; North London; Hertfordshire; Medway towns; Hampshire ++ ++.. and delivering to our vets in Kent or into our kennels which were in Broxbourne, Gatwick, Chessington or Guildford. 4 years ago I was going through the purchase procedure of securing one of our kennels to save it from being sold for housing. We somehow knew it wouldn't be long before the other kennels disappeared as society has moved into dog sitting and dogs were going abroad on holidays not left behind anymore in boarding kennels. That happened.
So I took on a run down kennels and within 6 months new kennel standards were brought in and we were peddling hard and trying to buy time, as we drove through the kennels to upgrade them. We were exasperated at how slow progress was and I found within 18 months all my savings had been spent. I was on such a steep learning curve as having worked for Social Services and NHS in management for over 20 years team management training and focusing service delivery to meet urgent need was one thing BUT running a small business was something else, with so many dogs dependent on it. Setting up a bank account, payroll, PAYE payment: pensions, Data protection, VAT, Accounts procedures: Card reading details, Utility contracts and associate bills. Website, Signage: Cleaning products: food orders. I had set the Rescue up 11 years earlier and had all the systems ticking along but the kennel business seemed more onerous with all the Health and Safety, Fire procedures. The first 2 weeks of living on premise I would hear the rats run over my ceiling every night. The windows in the kennels were all single glazed and frightenly dangerous had they shattered. The back of the house had a flat roof with a swimming pool on top! We didn't have a lawn mower that worked or a washing machine the staff had been using the one in the house! The lean too next to the house was full of the previous owners junk. There was a toilet in the middle of the kennels which had kept breaking down. The corridors were so dark lights were left on throughout the day. My house was terrible, (still is) incredibly tired and where do you start. Of course everything was directed towards the kennels and even today my 'home' doesn't feel like home and desperately needs decoration but 2019 we relaid the roof and sealed it. 2020 we got rid of the back flat roof and properly divided the back rooms up and plastered them. We are still tiling the floors and yet to find time to decorate.
We have had the saying for the last 4 years we are all part of the solution
...and so many people have appreciated our investment and endeavours to work on the kennels and land with hardly any money to achieve what we have, as the kennel business is completely separate to the Rescue.
Every 2 weeks I seem to focus on a whole new project. The last 2 weeks I have been pouring over the Rescue's accounts and compiling an analysis system, tables and charts to demonstrate our financial position and explore outlay and expenditure and income streams and relate this to the way the Rescue has changed over the last 3 years. Here is some important facts which are interesting.
We had been wrongly led to claim Giftaid on Homings since we were set up as a Charity. This came to light in 2018 and a review which isn't yet completed, confirmed we had a big payback due. Fortunately because the length of time of the review due to Covid we have been building up a legitimate claim which by the end of 2021 will pay of our debt. This has meant we have lost any Giftaid income for 3 years which has impacted on our finances.
It has been very humbling to see the people who continue to support us Month in Month: Year in Year. They are mainly people who have offered our dogs a home, surrendered a dog to us or volunteered and set up an amount and allowed that to run on their account; standing by us into the future. We are so grateful. This has always given us a fantastic foundation of certainty every month. As we have no salaries or expenses claimed except for diesel for transport, our main expense is our kennel bills. Next are our vet bills and much less so our equipment and medicines. Our running costs are minimal..ie insurance, accountancy fee; data protection , microchips, identity discs. We also receive regular donations from well known friends of our Rescue, the same names calling in and giving generously to our dogs. Any finance given to the Rescue is directly supporting our current and future dogs: Be assured.
People raise money for us as a chosen Charity eg Virginmoney or as they spend with Easyfunding, or Amazon++ Or they contribute whenever we set up a campaign or auction. We have just made the donate button more visible on our websites as people really do value us and what we are offering to so many dogs in dire need. So internet donations are a significant income line and different avenues feed in, like Community fundraising initiatives. Obviously fundraising events have not taken place for sometime.
What was fascinating in my research was calculating the number and percentage of long-stay dogs we have carried. The majority of our dogs would be long-stay with other Rescues ... in fact in truth other Rescues would not/ did not offer them a safe place. We did. Dogs that stay over 6 months are long stay. I once had the time to keep far more comprehensive statistics. January 2019 we were carrying approx. 50 long-stay dogs and nearly 60 other dogs. With kennel closures we have reduced our dog numbers and over the past 2 years retained 50 long stay dogs...but this is now out of 75 dogs in total. So we carry a higher proportion and so we have fewer easier dogs to home and our homing rate and income thereof is much lower. We do wonders for our dogs considering this a truly celebrate each homing like no other Rescue could. It is easy to home easy dogs... we take our responsibility very seriously to match appropriate families to our dogs (not our dogs to families) and so often through careful matching it makes our dogs homing's seem 'easy peasy'. This rests on the high calibre of our receiving families. Of the 50 long-stay dogs we were carrying in January 2019, we have homed 38 of them and others too who have come to us and stayed and then realised their homes. We have 12 dogs who have been with us over 2 years ..it is sad but our dogs wait for their rightful homes and adored in the meantime. As you know we all venerate our dogs as our celebrities. They haven't been waiting for so long, for us to get it wrong for them. If wrongly matched their lives are easily on the line. One fosterer reported our dog to the police as a dangerous dog ... the police heard its history and came back and said we have confidence in you as a Rescue to continue to support and find their right home. I was so touched. Many different police organisations use us, as they trust us as a responsible Rescue.
Standing up for our Rescue:
With the pandemic and relating influences we are losing money every month. Hence my indepth financial review to understand our situation. Could you help us by throwing us a life line in joining the many supporters who have set up standing orders to enable us to pay our bills?
Click here and call your bank! Setting up a Standing order and Giftaid
I have never been one to ask for money but we do need to continue to carry on our work and be there for dogs who need us. We need to prepare them for their forever homes. Income revenues have diminished with the pandemic and there are no grants to support animal charities from the government. If you set up even £5 a month it really does add up. The more people that do this we can raise our baseline funding to take the pressure off. Thank you if you can and do.If everyone who did an induction with us as walkers did a standing order we would have sufficient funds easily. I appreciate it if you can't or simply want to make a one off donation in our bank account in memory of a past dog or current dog under our care. I will smile as I go over the accounts, as I have this week, being reminded of our dogs, past and current volunteers, and those dogs you want to support.
We are having to raise our minimum homing donation which we have held back for over 10 years and I have argued the wrong time during this economic crisis but we have no choice.
Anyway!! Lets celebrate. We are all these:
Our Rescue feels great at the moment fantastic atmosphere and it is a joy to welcome in the spring...