Janet, Founder & Animal Welfare Advocate
Farm Animal Sanctuary, Middle Littleton
On life before lockdown.
We are Britain's first Farm Animal Sanctuary and we’ve always been busy. We have nearly 600 rescued farm animals of different varieties. We never have enough staff as we can’t afford them so we rely on volunteers who help us in the work we do. We keep these animals until the end of their lives and as they get older, they need a different kind of care. It’s round the clock work, 7 days a week throughout most of the year—it could be quite intense but we really need to keep going. We have many supporters through our fund-raising events which seem to have gotten bigger and bigger. We started with around 500 people during our first Open Day and the last one we did before lockdown, we had about 4,000 people. It was brilliant!
On continuing the work during lockdown.
We saw our funding stop and that was worrying. Then we had to stop having volunteers coming due to lockdown, which meant the workload of the staff doubled. Getting food for the animals was also challenging. Because the weather in the previous year was bad, there wasn’t much hay or straw available. If you could get some, it was double the price. Everything went up and when you’re not getting the funding in, then it's difficult. But we have a new website which seems to be working well. We keep ourselves active on social media, staying engaged with our supporters and showing them what our animals are up to. We’ve also been sending out newsletters so we are still in people’s minds.
I found the isolation personally hard. Normally, the staff will be chatting together during break-time and we can chat about what’s going on. But due to my age and vulnerability, I had to isolate and they had to stay away.
On leaving lockdown.
For me, this situation has given me more time to walk my dogs farther than usual. I often walked to the next village and I got to meet so many new people who I never realised supported us. I got stopped so many times and it was encouraging to hear how much support we have in the community. I’ve also had the time to appreciate things I haven’t really noticed because I was so busy — like the the buds on the trees and the snowdrops. Suddenly I can see how beautiful the trees were, even during winter. I’m proud of the staff — this lot has shown how strong they are and how dedicated they are to the work we do here. You push them to the limits and they’ve come out of it really well.