The RSPCA is recruiting a new pool of temporary trustees to work with branches across England and Wales when they “need need some extra help”.
There are currently 150 RSPCA branches, which carry out most of the direct animal welfare duties such as running rehoming centres, neutering, veterinary and microchipping services in local areas.
However, RSPCA’s campaign notes that occasionally “a branch may fall into national administration and need some extra help”.
The campaign, which launched last month, is calling for professional volunteers who can use their skills and experience to help run the RSPCA branches that are struggling.
Previously a temporary trustee would have to be a council member from the society, but since changes were made in 2019, trustees of branches can no longer be trustees of the national body at the same time.
The RSPCA told Civil Society News that the charity is now recruiting more openly in the hopes that it will find “high calibre candidates who can help us in our mission to help end animal suffering”.
This is the first time in recent years that the national society has had a proactive drive to recruit temporary trustees.
A temporary trustee’s responsibilities
In an announcement the RSPCA said: “A temporary trustee will provide leadership to a branch that has been through a challenging period (these may be financial issues, staffing issues, health and safety, or a lack of trustees).”
The RSPCA told Civil Society News that temporary trustees are appointed for an initial period of 12 months when there is not a locally elected committee to run the branch. During that time, the temporary trustees would look to maintain the branch’s work until local control could be restored. Failing this, the branch could be merged with a neighbouring one.
According the RSPCA website, a temporary trustee is responsible for guiding a branch “back to a stable situation and to a position where local trustees can be recruited and appointed”.
Though temporary trustees are initially appointed for 12 months, this could be renewed for a further year. Temporary trustees will have the same responsibilities as permanent trustees.
The RSPCA said that “once the branch is back on its feet, you would be able to help another branch when the need arises if you would like to”.
The charity is looking for applicants who uphold its mission to support animals who have been mistreated and prevent animal cruelty.
‘An important role in helping scores of animals’
Sandra Fruish, assistant director of branches, partnerships & volunteering said: “This is an exciting opportunity to become involved with the RSPCA in an important role which can really make a difference.
“Trustees make a tremendous contribution to the work we do to prevent animal cruelty and alleviate the suffering of animals. Anyone who signs up to be a trustee will be playing an important role in helping scores of animals that desperately need our help.”
Josie Woodward, a RSPCA branch trustee, emphasised the flexibility and variety of the role: “Being a branch trustee is very involved, it's more of a hybrid between being in a management role for a small charity and being a trustee for a larger one.
“What I get involved in is really up to me and the focus of the branch at the time! During my time with the [London East] branch, I've volunteered as the branch treasurer, producing the annual accounts, managed the branch social media account, and been involved in our rehoming and welfare processes. I even fostered two lovely kittens (Disco and Chipstick) over lockdown.”
RSPCA is encouraging people from all social and cultural backgrounds to apply, and has created an online session that tests whether you have what it takes to become a trustee.