THE county branch of a charity which looks after abandoned pets has spoken of the challenges it has faced, and how they have adapted to cope with the pandemic.

Workers at The Holdings in Kempsey, the site of the RSPCA’s Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire branch, have been busy working throughout the lockdown period to care for animals.

Chiara Civardi, trustee at the RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire Branch, said it had meant rethinking the way rescued pets are protected and how to support this financially.

“At the very beginning one of the main goals for the charity was preventing an increase in the numbers of abandoned cats as there were a number of reports of animals that have tested positive for, or shown symptoms of, COVID-19,” the charity trustee said.

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"As there was, and there still is, no known evidence of the virus passing from pets to humans, the branch did its best to reassure cat owners and prevent abandonment due to misinformation.

“When the public health situation became increasingly concerning, minimising the risk of spreading the virus became a top priority. While the RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire Branch primarily takes care of animals, it relies on a number of people to conduct its charitable activities. These include a number of animal specialists and staff working at different charity shops as well as everyone that supports the centre as volunteers, fosterers, adopters and anyone donating goods and funds to the charity.

“Ensuring the safety of staff and the animals in our care is a top priority for the branch, which took a number of precautionary measures to minimise their chances of getting COVID-19. In particular, all charity shops and the rescue rehoming centre were closed to our volunteers and the public.

"Key workers, responsible for taking care of the animals in our care and any new arrivals, adjusted their daily operations by taking precautions as per government guidelines. Finally, all live, physical fundraising events have been cancelled to avoid mass gatherings.

“When approving these measures, it was clear to all branch trustees that quickly finding suitable foster and adopting families was more important than ever. Otherwise, the rescue centre would be full and unable to accept new animals in need for an indefinite period. To do this while socially distancing, the centre manager and frontline workers set up virtual visits to make sure the animals would be rehomed in suitable accommodation and the fosterers/adopters could have a contact with them beforehand.

“Another main concern for the trustees was knowing that the charity’s main, conventional income streams were lost. As the RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire heavily relies on public donations, it has been crucial to find new ways to raise funds and pay for veterinary expenses, food, and The Holding’s operational expenses.

“Ultimately, making up this shortfall is essential to keep rescuing animals like Toby from suffering. This is an ex street cat, between eight and 10 years old, who was found with a broken tooth and a large haematoma on his ear due to fighting. He also tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Toby’s treatment has cost the branch hundreds of pounds and there will be more needed before he is ready to look for a home.

“To continue being able to help animals like Toby, volunteers and frontline workers that are “Friends of The Holdings” played a key role by generating new ideas on how to support the branch.

“Online raffles, yoga classes and plant sales are just some of the activities that took place. One outstanding fundraiser was organised by Olivia and Florence, two sisters under 10 years old, who ran a marathon, raising nearly £800. Also, one of the branch’s valued supporter, Jane, has recently raised close to £900 via an online raffle organised specifically to support Toby’s treatment.

“These events have been crucial to support the centre, yet the branch needs to continue its fundraising efforts to go on. Currently, the trustees are busy sewing reusable, washable face coverings (no medical grade) to sell for £2.50 each.

"In addition, they are organising a pet photo and video competition, known as Home Pet Show. For £2, people can register at and submit the photos of their animal companions. Winners will be announced in the second week of June."

Anyone interested in supporting the RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire Branch can contact the charity at or text “HOLD” to 70450 to donate £5 via SMS.