WRAS Volunteers Pushed To The Brink

Wednesday 17th August 2016

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More volunteers are needed to help an East Sussex animal charity to cope with a very busy summer. 

Trevor Weeks MBE, founder of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service said, “My colleagues and I have been worked exceptionally long hours this spring and summer and I am very concerned for their welfare, as they are getting very tired, stressed and exhausted. I’m asking for the public’s support to help cheer them on in their marathon summer and help show them how much support there is out there for their valuable work they undertake saving the wildlife of Sussex.”

Trevor who formed WRAS as a voluntary group in 1996 is asking the public to post in “Thank you” and “Well Done” notes to try and boost his teams will-power and determination to keep going with still another 6 weeks of the busy summer season left. “I know they do this for the animals and they don’t expect this thanks or support, but I know it will do them good and help boost them if people show their support and encouragement for the valuable work they undertake,” said Trevor.

“The rescue line has been starting any time from 4am onwards and often doesn’t finish until gone midnight.  Even on our weeks off call, my colleague Chris Riddington of Eastbourne and I provide back-up for each other and are still undertaking rescues.  It means we can work exceptionally long hours. As our rescue work is voluntary on top of our paid jobs working at WRAS, we can find ourselves working up to 110 hours a week when we are only paid minimum wage to work 38 hours a week.  Tuesday last week, I work 23 hours in a row with just 3 hours rest before being up and on the road again the following day working 20 hours.  My colleague Chris is experiencing the same sort of hours when he is on call too. This this as a one off is fine but when it becomes several times a week it becomes a struggle.  In July our ambulances drove over 20,000 miles dealing with incidents. Our Orphan Team are working from 7am till 10pm every day of the week. Katie Nunn Nash from Bexhill is frequently taking baby birds and mammals home on top of helping with rescues, care work and dealing with emergencies early in the morning till late at night. Casualty Manager Kathy has had her busiest summer season rearing over 50 collared doves compared to less than 10 last year. This week alone she has taken on 18 new baby pigeons and doves at home, sadly two have died but the rest are doing very well.  Her day starts at 7am with four of them being so young they have to be fed every two hours till 7pm in the evening. She is also looking after 19 hedgehogs which include two mums with babies. These guy put the care of the casualties first, in front of the rest of their lives, to ensure that they can provide the care and attention which the wildlife of Sussex needs,” explained Trevor.

“Chris, Katie, Kathy, Lindsay and all our volunteers from the Feed and Clean shifts, rescue shifts, reception, Orphan Team and those behind the scene doing admin and DIY work have been amazing with the hours they have put in. They have all worked very hard and some very long hours.  This summer has seen a more prolonged season for night time rescues which are normally more common during the Spring and Autumn but this year night time calls have continued throughout. We have had so many casualties in care with open wounds and trauma from small birds being caught by cats and birds of prey to road casualties too. Our veterinary and care teams have had to work hard this week suturing these wounds and thank you to vets at Henley House in Uckfield and to our vets Mike Symons and Simon Harris for working hard supporting us especially Mike out of hours recently as its been busy with road casualties,” said Trevor.

He is asking for people to send in words of encouragement and donations where possible to help boost funds too. “Please send notes, cards or donations to our valuable volunteers at East Sussex WRAS, Unit 8 The Shaw Barn, Whitesmith, BN8 6JD, and show them how much their aching and tired bodies, exhausted minds and spirits are so much appreciated to give them the encouragement they need to keep going.  They know I appreciate them and I can only encourage them so much, so I need your help to show them how much they are appreciated. They deserve medals, they are all amazing!” said Trevor.

This summer has seen East Sussex WRAS deal with much higher numbers of calls and casualties than any previous year.  This summer has seen the highest number of casualties in care at any one time hit the 300 mark for the first time ever.  In July WRAS’s ambulances drove over 20,000 miles between them. WRAS has already received over 2500 calls for help and advice so far this year, which is the same as for the entire year back in 2012 just four years ago. This year has seen the team undertake some amazing rescues from blue tits and fox cubs stuck underground in drains to swans with fishing hooks embedded in their throats, and two deer with their antlers tied together, successfully treating and release several protected Dormice, numerous road casualty badgers, foxes, Owls and Buzzards.  “What people don’t see is the hundreds of hours which have to be put in behind the scenes, sorting out fundraising, organising volunteer rotas, cleaning and feeding, maintenance around the centre and of the ambulances, plus ordering and stock control” it’s a huge effort by everyone” said Trevor.

WRAS is a small charity with limited funds and resources but achieves big things because of the dedication and commitment of its staff and volunteers, winning several awards for its work from the ITV1 Local Animal Charity of the Year in the British Animal Honours to the BBC Radio Sussex Community Heroes Award for Animal Welfare and more.

More information about the charity can be found online where donations can also be made.


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