Burnham-On-Sea wildlife carers at Secret World Wildlife Rescue have this week launched a £400,000 fundraising appeal to help build a new Wildlife Treatment Centre.
At the beginning of this year plans for the new building were in place but the project was put on hold by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The charity say its staff, who were classed as essential workers, worked right through lockdown, caring for animals but over £130,000 of fundraising and educational events had to be cancelled, resulting in a “challenging financial situation”.
Construction of the new Wildlife Treatment Centre needs to start in November to enable the charity’s work of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing wildlife to continue, says the charity.
“Our staff have been amazing,” Pauline Kidner, the founder of Secret World Wildife Rescue Centre, tells Burnham-On-Sea.com.
“We have rescued over 100,000 wildlife casualties since we started in 1992. We have been working in Portacabins for the last four years, for which we only have planning permission until the end of next year.”
“It is therefore paramount that the build begins in November and we need to urgently raise the funds to allow that to happen.”
The charity has already raised around £450,000 which will enable it to start building phase 1 of the new wildlife centre this autumn and they now hope to raise at least £400,000 more to fund the second phase of the project.
Why is there a need for a new Wildlife Treatment Centre?
The charity explains: “From Secret World Wildlife Rescue’s beginning, wildlife casualties and orphans were treated and cared for in Pauline’s farmhouse kitchen. As numbers of admissions grew each year, more and more of her and Derek’s house was converted into animal treatment rooms for deer, badgers, owls, hedgehogs and other species.”
“Over the years the numbers of animals outgrew the space in the farmhouse, and with ever-increasing standards of wildlife rehabilitation, the charity recognised the need for purpose-built treatment facilities. Unable to afford a new building, much of the animal hospital rooms were relocated into portacabins on the charity’s grounds next door, with the hope that funds would be raised to enable these facilities to be purely temporary.”
“Several years later this is unfortunately still the case, and staff and volunteers are working in hospital room and office portacabins (right) that are not really suitable for the high level of service we wish to provide. The facilities are also scattered across the site, which leads to inefficient use of our limited resources.”
“Our staff and volunteers are providing the highest level of care for the wildlife we are treating, but because of the large number of animal admissions in recent years and the supposed ‘temporary’ portacabin accommodation that is deteriorating with each season, the facilities and working environment that exist for the care and rehabilitation of the animals and for the charity’s administration are simply no longer appropriate.”
“The local planners have also stated that they will not renew the planning permission for the portacabins beyond 2021. Improving our facilities for the sake of our animals and people has been a priority for several years. But the deadline to move out of the portacabins makes the project much more urgent. Secret World Wildlife Rescue must now commit to its future and build the Wildlife Treatment Centre that has been so long awaited.”
What are the plans?
“Although Secret World Wildlife Rescue has striven to designate funds for the new build in previous years, ongoing operational costs have taken priority. To secure initial funding for the new building works, the charity made the decision to sell its ‘Cider Barns’, which served as the wildlife casualty and public entry to Secret World Wildlife Rescue for many years.”
“The barns also provided storage for hospital equipment, bedding and food as well as a small gift shop, filing storage, etc. This building was not only in a poor state of repair, but no longer had direct access to the charity’s main site, located a short distance down the road. This made it time-consuming and difficult for staff to carry animals outdoors between hospital buildings.”
“Hence, in addition to the animal treatment rooms, the new building will also house the charity’s reception, gift shop, offices, storage, IT servers and the staff and volunteer kitchen and changing rooms, etc. Bringing our dispersed indoor working spaces together under one roof will provide a more efficient working environment for all.”
“The building is designed to complement the neighbouring farmhouse/barn structures, while incorporating services such as ventilation, heating and lighting specifically required in wildlife rehabilitation. We aim to include as many environmentally green features as possible, including solar panels, sedum roof and rainwater harvesting. Bat boxes, bird boxes and other wildlife support will be an integral feature in line with our environmental ethos.”
“With our newly designed building we will also be in a better position to engage visitors we have in our work. We will install CCTV to monitor the casualty animals and enable people to see the treatments undertaken behind the scenes without negatively impacting upon the animals. It is important that people see the wildlife care we provide, so they can appreciate what is involved and see where their money goes. These CCTV links will also be broadcast live via our website to extend our educational reach to a wider audience and particularly our supporters.”
“A section of our foyer/gift shop will also house a small exhibition area where we can share information about our educational and public activities with visitors, celebrate our volunteer contributions and acknowledge those who support our work in any way.”
If you would like to know more about the appeal see www.secretworld.org or ring 01278 768707.