Volunteering- how can I help animals in need?

We get many people asking us if they can volunteer with animals, and cleaning out pens and cuddling cats understandably seems to be a very popular request! However we do not have an animal centre so we cannot offer a volunteer role that matches this criteria.

We really appreciate these offers of help, however did you know that helping animals in need is not just about their direct care, such as feeding, cleaning their bedding or having a cuddle with them? Here is a little insight to what goes into running an Animal Welfare Charity and what volunteer role you can do that will really have an impact on animals in need.

Behind the scenes our Animal Welfare Team (AWT) are working hard to ensure all the animals in our care have everything they need. This involves taking them to the vets (we do not have our own vets), securing them a temporary home with our fosterers, the rehabilitation of any sick or injured animals along with special care (day and night) and finding forever homes for the animals that are ready. They also take animals that are brought in last minuet from the National Inspectorate and manage the rehoming waiting list, meaning as soon as we have some space, we may be able to take another animal into our care. They also receive many applications for subsidised neutering vouchers or financial aid requests from the public and ensure they get these dealt with as soon as they can.

Our Central Services Team takes calls from the public and responds to enquiries via email and letter. They also support other departments such as the AWT by putting requests through and recruiting volunteers. 

Branch finances, membership, training, policies and procedures, health & safety, safeguarding, blogs, newsletters and the management of social media are also some of the other tasks carried out by the CS team.

All of this is an essential contribution to successfully run an Animal Welfare Organisation. However, these are only two of the four departments that we have at our Branch! We also have our Education and Events department and our Income Generation and Retail department too and this is where you step in!

Our charity shops and eBay store are the backbone of the Branch, bringing in the much needed funds so we can keep on helping animals in need in your local area. We have seven shops in our Branch area and all are run by our dedicated staff and volunteers. Our Shop Managers and Deputy Shop Managers sort through our donations, keep the stock room clean and stocked up, they manage the tills, finances, the shop floor layout, window displays, promote gift aid and carry out administrative tasks.

They also clean, open and close their shop and manage volunteers and their training. They spend time enforcing good health & safety and safeguarding procedures and have had to face extra challenges during this pandemic. When our shops were closed, we really noticed a difference to our Branch and it goes to show just how important our wonderful shops are.

By volunteering in one of our charity shops, you will be directly helping animals in need. Our Retail Team rely on volunteers to help them with the important work that they do and this is a very rewarding volunteer role.

So what kind of tasks do our shop volunteers do? We have many different roles that are vital in keeping the shop running and they suit all different skills and abilities.

Are you creative? Maybe you want to take care of the shop displays.

Love being around people? Using the till and serving customers may be for you!

Not really a people person? Why not sort out donations in the stock room?

You can always call us to see what role suits you best however in the meantime, take a look at some of our FAQs below.

We work around you! We appreciate you giving up your time to help animals in need and we are very thankful that you have the time to do so.  We do ask for a minimum for 3 hours per week, just so it is easier for our team to plan their rotas.

This really depends on you and how you feel. We have creative roles such as, managing the shop displays, serving customers on the till and sorting out donations in the stock room. Each shop is different, so you can discuss this with your role manager once you are on board!

You will learn skills in customer service, visual merchandising, money handling, how to manage a stockroom and good organisational skills. You will also learn about how an Animal Charity is run and you will meet new people! It will look great on your CV and we will provide you with a reference if you request one. You mush volunteer for a minimum of three months if you would like a reference from us though.

We all have to start somewhere! If you do not have any experience, that is not a problem at all as full training will be provided. In fact, it is a great way to gain some experience so you can apply for future jobs! You can discuss any concerns you have with the CVSO or with the Shop Manager. You will have full support with whatever task you wish to learn however there is no pressure for you to learn lots!

Let’s not forget our Education & Events department who provide bespoke education packages and talks to schools, social clubs and groups across Mid Norfolk & North Suffolk. Prevention through education is essential to setting up a cruelty free future for animals.

With Schools being closed and events cancelled, we have really missed out in this last year. We had such lovely events planned for you all however do not worry, we have saved them for when things are back to normal.

When we are back, we will also be needing Events Volunteers to help us set up or to assist with the running of the stand. This is a varied role on an as and when basis. Keep an eye on our website, our newsletter and our socials as there will be regular updates for you!

EmmaVolunteering- how can I help animals in need?
Read more

What happens when I apply to be a Fosterer?

Have you considered fostering for the Branch however unsure on what to expect? Here is our fostering process starting from our application process, all the way to getting your first animal to care for. We have also added some FAQ’s and some useful links too!

Step 1: Apply

Once you have applied via our website, your application goes through to the Customer & Volunteering Services Officer (CVSO) who will evaluate your application. The CVSO deals with the recruitment of volunteers and any administrative tasks that is required for the volunteer. To find out more about their role, click here.

Our volunteer applications tend to be monitored on a Thursday and Friday, so please do not worry if you do not hear anything immediately. We will get to yours as soon as we can!

Step 2: Informal chat

If your application meets the criteria, the CVSO will be in touch via email to ask you for a suitable time for an informal chat. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know us, and for us to get to know you too! You can ask as many questions as you like and we will explain everything you need to know regarding the next steps.

Step 3: Request references 

If the informal chat goes well and everyone is happy, we will the request the references you provided us on your application form. We will require two references to proceed with the application.

Step 4: Virtual home visit

Once we have received your references, your details will be passed to a member of the Animal Welfare Team who will then arrange a virtual home check to ensure everything is suitable for the type of animal you are looking at fostering. This is nothing to worry about and is also another great opportunity for you to ask the team any questions you may have.

Step 5: Branch induction

Once you have passed your home check, you will be invited to a Branch induction where you will have the opportunity to meet some of the team. You will also receive a volunteering pack and some documents to sign. The CVSO will go through all of this with you and will answer any questions you may have.

Please note that, due to current restrictions around Covid-19, Branch inductions are done via telephone until further notice.

Step 6: You are a fosterer! 

Congratulations, you are now registered as a fosterer for our Branch. A member of the Animal Welfare Team will now be your main contact however you can still contact the CVSO if you have any queries or issues. You will be contacted by a member of the AWT when they have an animal that requires a foster home. You can either accept or decline, it is entirely up to you!

So now you know the application process, below are just some of our frequently asked questions. However if you would like a further chat before you apply, please email volunteering@rspcanorwich.org and we will be happy to help!

Fostering an animal means you are temporarily looking after an animal that is owned by the Branch. The Branch will supply everything the animal needs whilst in your care and all the relevant veterinary treatment will also be covered.

Adopting an animal means you are taking on full ownership of the animal and once the paperwork has been signed, that animal then becomes your responsibility.

No, you cannot come and pick out a particular animal however you may specify what type of animal you are able to foster such as dogs, cats or small animals. We will contact you to let you know when we have an animal that needs fostering and will ask you if you are able to accept, however you do not have to say yes every time. Please be aware though, that too many declines may result in someone else being asked first.                                                                           

There is no set time scale for fostering as this really depends on the animal itself. Every situation is different however, we will ask you for your availability before we give you an animal to foster. If you have any holidays booked, let us know so we can plan ahead. This will also help us decide what animal may be best for you to foster, due to your availability.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

No, all equipment, medication and food is supplied by the Branch and we will restock this as and when required. Any toys or enrichment equipment will be brought and supplied based on Branch funds. If you need to attend an emergency vet appointment, the vets will invoice the Branch directly; no costs will need to be paid up front at the time of any vet appointment. If you start to run out of supplies, please give us a minimum of 7 days notice so we can restock these for you.

EmmaWhat happens when I apply to be a Fosterer?
Read more

Become a Trustee

Our Branch relies on volunteers to undertake a wide range of animal welfare work in our local area, such as fostering, charity shop work and attending our events.

If you like the sound of volunteering but want to do more, why not apply to be Branch Trustee? As a Trustee, you will have the chance to influence how we care for and prevent cruelty to animals and you will play a pivotal role in ensuring our charity is run efficiently. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people who share your enthusiasm for animal welfare.

You will have the opportunity to gain new skills and develop existing ones, whilst making a real difference to the lives of animals in our local area.

Once you have passed the application process, you will be welcomed to our team with a full Branch induction from enthusiastic Branch staff, starting you on your new volunteer journey with confidence.

I’d describe the induction process where I met individual members of the team and found out how the Branch works, as being like walking into a room full of people who’re all standing chatting, with a cup of tea or glass of wine in their hand…and they all turn and smile and are genuinely pleased to say hello and start a conversation. (I really need to get out more, I know). But that’s the best description I can think of.

- Jo Church, Branch Trustee

We are looking for professional people above the age of 18, with a strategic background in veterinary care, governance and/or senior-level management that have the ability and experience to actively contribute to the leadership of a progressive charity. You will need to become a Branch member first and can do so by clicking here.

EmmaBecome a Trustee
Read more

It’s National Volunteers’ Week

This week is a very important week, it’s National Volunteers’ Week!

As we still cannot run events or get and about as much as we would like, we will be posting blogs dedicated to our volunteers and our volunteer roles at the Branch. So let’s start with a poem explaining just how important our volunteers are!

Not that we need an excuse to say thank you, as everyday our volunteers inspire us. However we hope you enjoy your week! 

EmmaIt’s National Volunteers’ Week
Read more

It’s National Rescue Dog Day!

This National Rescue Dog Day we want to honor all of our lovely dogs that have come into our care. Whether they have already found their forever home, or going through rehabilitation before they become available for adoption, each and every one of them is unique and very special.

But what can you do to help rescue dogs? Below is a list of useful tips and how to get involved.

#adoptdontshop: If there is room in your life to give a dog a forever home and that second chance, consider adopting! When our animals are ready for their forever home, they will be listed on our website.

Volunteer: If you are unable to commit to having a dog long term, why not look into fostering? As a volunteer fosterer, you may be able to help more than one rescue dog on their path to recovery, helping them to get ready for their new forever home!

If directly caring for an animal isn’t your thing, there are also other lovely volunteer roles too! Our shops are in need of some dedicated volunteers and by joining our volunteer team, you will make a huge impact on animals in need!

Donate/Fundraise: Our animals always need your support. In addition to financial donations, our dogs have a list of much needed items such as blankets, toys, treats, and food, so if you prefer, you can buy them a present! You can see our Amazon wishlist here.

You can also donate any unwanted items to our charity shops. Our shops are our main source of income so anything that is donated and sold will go directly to helping animals in need in your local area.

Fundraising is also a great and fun way to help animals in need. From bake sales to sponsored runs, you can be as creative as you like!

Neuter your dog: To stop any accidental arrival of puppies, you may want to speak to your vet about getting your dog neutered. With more unwanted animals around, there is an extra strain on animal charities. Below are some reasons (from the National RSPCA) why neutering your pet may be best for them, and for you.

  • Neutering prevents females coming into season, when they may attract unwanted male attention, become pregnant or have false pregnancies.
  • Neutering prevents the risk of testicular cancer in males and uterus infections and cancers in females.
  • In male dogs and cats, neutering can reduce urine marking and roaming.
  • Unspayed female animals can be messy when they come into season – during this time, females can bleed for up to three weeks.
  • Animals don’t respect family relationships – siblings will mate. This increases the risk of offspring with birth defects and deformities.
  • Neutering animals can reduce the risk of them being stolen for breeding.
  • Vet fees for problems during or after pregnancy and birth can be expensive. Offspring might need veterinary attention too.
  • Owners have a responsibility to meet their animal’s needs under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Pregnant and nursing animals need even more care, and their offspring will be equally as demanding. When the young are ready to be rehomed, you need to ensure that they are vaccinatedwormed and flea treated, which you will also need to be able to afford.

If you live within our Branch area, we offer reduced cost neutering vouchers.

Education: Teaching young children the importance of kindness, unconditional love, and responsible care of all animals is essential to ensuring a future of good animal welfare. Our Education and Events Officer runs educational talks in schools, clubs, care homes and more and covers many different topics.

EmmaIt’s National Rescue Dog Day!
Read more

We are working together

We are delighted to announce that we are coming together with Age UK Norwich in a brand new fostering scheme! This is a great partnership and it will not only help animals in need, it will also help people in our local community.

Animal fostering is an important and rewarding volunteer role. It helps to play a vital part in the rehabilitation of animals and helps improve their chance of finding a new home. Many animals that we take in have may have been strays or are not used to the care and affection that they deserve. Living with a foster family helps to provide them with one-to-one care, allowing them to build up their confidence and get used to a normal lifestyle. Some animals don’t cope well in a kennel or cattery environment, or need to remain in our care for a slightly longer period of time due to medical issues.

We want to ensure our animals are as healthy as can be before they find their forever home, or at least get used to their new medications if they have to be on them permanently. This is where we need fosterers to take them in to provide them with a real home, even if it is only on a temporary basis.

We are delighted to be partnering with Age UK Norwich on this very worthwhile and important project. Not only will the animals in our care receive the extra special love and attention that a fosterer brings, but the fosterer will also benefit from the rewarding, active and healthy lifestyle that caring for an animal can bring”

Gregory Brown, CEO RSPCA Mid Norfolk & North Suffolk

No two days are the same here at the Branch and although we require foster homes for dogs and cats, we are also looking for foster homes for rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals.

Whether it is a dog, cat or even a little mouse, caring for an animal is proven to have a positive impact on mental well-being, and just as important are the benefits for our physical wellbeing. Older people that take care of an animal can expect a boost to the immune system, along with the regular exercise that can improve our mobility and fitness. Animals can be great company and taking the time to aid their rehabilitation so they can find their forever home is extremely rewarding.

If you are an Age UK Norwich service user, please remember to tick the box on the application form when you apply!

EmmaWe are working together
Read more

We are now accepting fostering applications!

Would you like to foster for our Branch? If the answer is yes, you are now welcome to apply! After such a long time, we are finally able to start recruiting for volunteers again and we are very excited! Read on for some fostering FAQs and for the link to our application form!

It is not just cats and dogs that need foster homes. Sometimes we have rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and other small animals that need some rehabilitation and specialist care too. So if you are able to help more than one type of animal, make sure you let us know on your application form!

If you are unsure or would like more information on being an animal fosterer for our Branch, read our FAQs below.

EmmaWe are now accepting fostering applications!
Read more


Did you know that as many as 10 different hedgehogs may visit a garden over several nights? This could mean ‘your hedgehog’ is a number of different individuals visiting at different times! As it is Hedgehog Awareness week, we thought we would share some top tips from the National RSPCA on making your garden hog friendly and some information on what to do if you find a hedgehog out and about.

If the hedgehog is hibernating, gently replace the animal into the space, re-cover with old nest material and leave alone. If this is not possible then place the hedgehog in a large box or in a part of the garden the hedgehog will be safe and sheltered. Make sure the hedgehog can get out of the box easily.

If the hedgehog is not hibernating and has young hoglets, recover them and leave them alone. If this is not possible, please call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 for advice.

If the weather is not cold and the hedgehog seems healthy, it should be left alone. Provide food and water and monitor the situation. If it does not seem interested in the food, call the National RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

If the weather is cold (frost, snow or below freezing) or the hedgehog is staggering, circling or obviously sick or injured then please call the National RSPCA.

If you found a hedgehog that is clearly sick or injured, or an orphaned hoglet that weighs less than 300g, please call the National RSPCA‟s cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.

Supplementing a hedgehog‟s natural diet by leaving out food is a great way to help hedgehogs in your area. Hedgehogs will love tinned dog or cat food
and crushed dog or cat biscuits (not fishbased). Hedgehog food is also highly
recommended and often available from suppliers of wild bird food.

Never feed hedgehog’s bread and/or milk! Cow‟s milk can cause diarrhoea and bread is very low in nutrients. Leave a shallow dish of fresh clean water every day. Clean the dish outside (not in the kitchen) every day with hot soapy water and rinse well.

Cats do not normally pose a problem as they usually leave hedgehogs alone after initial investigation.

Dogs can attack hedgehogs, though they will rarely succeed in getting through their spines unless the hedgehog is sick or young. Try to keep dogs away from hedgehogs and monitor or keep your dog on a lead in the garden at dusk or night when you know the hedgehogs will be out. You can also „warn‟ any hedgehog before you come outside by turning a light on. Owners may worry about “hedgehog fleas” being passed to their pets; however they cannot survive on any species but hedgehogs

Keeping your garden Hedgehog friendly

  • Gardening: Leave „wild‟, insect-friendly areas in your garden to encourage invertebrates for hedgehogs to eat and provide shelter for the hedgehogs themselves. Check carefully for animals before moving or strimming your lawn and take care when turning over compost or leaf piles with
    a spade or pitch fork.
  • Log, compost or leaf piles: Provide shelter for nesting mothers, young hoglets and hibernating hedgehogs, plus as havens for invertebrates they provide an all-year food supply.
  • Ponds: Provide a natural source of water and attract invertebrates for hedgehogs to eat. Make sure you slope the edges of the pond or use stones to create ‟steps‟ so that hedgehogs can climb out if they fall in!
  • Bonfires: Always thoroughly disturb bonfires before lighting, as there could be hedgehogs nesting or hiding inside.
  • Netting: Make sure that if you do have any netting in your garden that you ensure it is well above ground level as hedgehogs can easily become caught in netting or wire. Pack away or roll up fruit nets, tennis and goal nets or similar when not in use. The RSPCA recommends replacing any netting in your garden with solid metal mesh.
  • Drains and holes: Hedgehogs can easily fall into uncovered drains or holes in your garden. Cover holes or check them every day to ensure no hedgehogs have become trapped.
  • Litter: Litter is a big problem for all wild animals as they can become trapped, injured or choke; make sure your garden is clear of all litter.
  • Chemicals: Slug pellets can poison hedgehogs and should be used only as a last resort. Instead try using one of many „natural‟ alternatives, like crushed eggshells or coffee grounds. Wood preservatives can be ingested by hedgehogs and should be replaced with a wildlifefriendly water-based alternative. Pesticides will reduce the prey available to a hedgehog and should be used sparingly or not at all.
  • Sheds: Don’t close your shed doors if you usually keep them open, there may be hedgehogs nesting there. Make sure any dangerous chemicals or tools are kept well off the ground. Don‟t dismantle your shed around
    October time as hoglets may be nesting underneath the floor.
Read more

It’s the first of the month so you know what that means. Our May Newsletter is here! We have have pet care advice, adoption stories, a top tip from our lovely Animal Welfare Officer, Charli plus so much more!

Read more