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Summary of the Chiltern Branch achievements in 2017

21 March 2018

Here’s a summary of what the Chiltern Branch achieved in 2017.

First and foremost we homed 59 cats and kittens last year (including direct homings), which is more than one cat per week and only very slightly less than in 2016. Our branch is run solely by volunteers – almost 50 of them - who give up their time as and when they can. We have 4 fosterers with 8 pens between them, and we’d love to have 1 or 2 more in the near future. Thanks go to our dedicated fosterers for all the time and care they give to all of these gorgeous cats who deserve a loving new home.

Our welfare, ferals and strays team welcomed 4 new volunteers last year. The team had a very large number of strays to deal with – 26 in total. Thanks to the good fortune of having been microchipped, 8 lost cats were reunited with their families. With regards to feral cats, 23 were trapped, neutered and returned, plus 18 were neutered and homed. The team also socialised 20 feral kittens which were subsequently successfully adopted to domestic homes. Their help was also sought to assist with rehoming / relocating two multicat households. If that wasn’t enough, they also found time to help with rehoming 14 ferals from outside of the area that we cover. The team deserves a big thank you for their amazing contribution.

Neutering is as important an activity for us as rehoming because it is just as important to manage the cat population so as to avoid there being even more cats which need a new home at some point in their lives. We take part in World Spay Day each year to spread the word about the benefits of neutering. 216 cats were neutered in 2017 with financial help from the branch. 

In 2017 we had fundraising stalls at Chesham Local Produce Market, Haddenham Fete and the Bucks County Show and all were very successful, raising just over £1,500 between them. We also attended the Whitchurch May Feast but the weather was awful so we chalked that one up to experience! Bucket collections raised £517. Two supporters held Pawsome Teas and raised £336. The ‘Harry’ cat costume that we borrowed from Head Office was retired but we have our own costume now expertly made by Helen.

The Vale Lottery has been so successful that other local authorities are following the model. We joined the Chiltern & South Bucks Lottery in November. At the time of writing we are selling 65 tickets a week (both lotteries), which brings in £1,638 a year. This really helps to keep our funds topped up and takes some pressure off the fundraising team.

Plants sold well again as did our Chiltern Branch Calendar. Thank you to everyone who helped fundraise in 2017.

There are so many ways to support us including making a one-off or regular donation to our bank account or through JustGiving. If you sign up to Easyfundraising or Give as you Live you can make a donation while shopping online at no extra cost. We have 34 supporters signed up to easyfundraising.com and between them they have earned the branch over £750 over the last 5 years. We also have an Amazon wish list or why not get creative and knit or crochet blankets and cat nip mice for the foster cats?

Our total income from adoption fees, donations and general fundraising came to just over £36,700 which is a fabulous increase of just over £10k from 2016. This has enabled us to do much more in our local area to help cats and kittens in need, which is why our expenditure has increased this year, a large portion of which went toward funding a single pen for a new fosterer. We do still however depend on donations and fundraising to continue to do our work, so a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the branch and the cats that we help. We currently have 114 registered supporters. Each year we have a few people making regular monthly donations into our branch funds on an ongoing basis which helps greatly, especially as we are still hoping to increase our fostering space, and this could be funded in this way. We also get adhoc donations through, for instance, justgiving.com.

On average around 1300 people visit our website every month. The most popular sections are cats available for adoption, neutering information, news stories and details of upcoming fundraising events.

We use Facebook and Twitter to post about our cats for re-homing and our fundraising events. We also post messages on cat care, the importance of neutering, success stories and lost/found cats. In response to our posts, supporters have donated cat food and other items, offered to home our cats and spread the news about missing cats. By the end of 2017, our Facebook supporters totalled 1,395. And we now have more volunteer admins helping to post regularly. Thanks to people sharing our posts, as many as 6,000 people see some of them. During 2017, we have increased our number of Twitter followers to nearly 3,000. We made over 3.3 million Twitter Impressions in 2017 (an Impression is the delivery of one of our Tweets to an account's Twitter stream), compared to 2.2 million in 2016. Our top tweet about a missing cat was delivered to over 36,000 accounts. In 2017, we set up @ChilternCPCat, an additional account run by our fosterers which focuses on one foster cat at any time. It shows their individual experiences in pens and explains more about the work we do. It already has nearly 1,000 followers.

In summary we’ve had yet another busy year, and we can only achieve as much as we do through having a fantastic team of dedicated volunteers. We are lucky to have such a team. We all have our own parts to play in the process of taking a cat in and the final rehoming process. Whether it's an abandoned domestic, a much-loved pet, who for various reasons has to be rehomed, or feisty feral that, at the time doesn't fully appreciate our efforts to get it somewhere better than where it was. We are always looking for more volunteers. Fosterers are especially needed - preferably with room for a double pen in their garden!!