13 Questions With Raystede

Possibly our cutest takeover yet! Raystede is an animal welfare organisation and charity based in East Sussex.

Tell us about Raystede and how you started!

Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare was founded by the late Miss M Raymonde-Hawkins. She was originally a teacher but she left the education sector to build Raystede as an animal charity in 1952, it all began from the back garden of her cottage, we now use her old house as offices. Miss Raymonde-Hawkins wanted to provide facilities that were better than existing animal rescue centres. Her campaign focused on giving unwanted and abandoned animals a better life. Our site has now expanded across 43 acres of land and continues to be at the forefront of animal welfare.

How many different types of animals do you currently care for?

We care for a range of animals at Raystede. We rehome dogs, cats and small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and more. We also care for alpaca, donkeys, goats, sheep, horses, ponies, hens, ducks and geese. We are one of the most diverse rescue centres in the country due to the number of different species we have.

What’s the usual amount of time an animal who is to be adopted stays at Raystede?

They are rehomed within a month. If any of the animals need extra training or veterinary treatment, we will keep them with us as until they are ready to be adopted. If necessary, we will put them in a foster home to help prepare them for their new home.

What animals have the most character?

Every animal is an individual and they all have lots of character! We character assess every animal that will be rehomed so that we can match each animal with their potential owner to make sure it will be a good fit.

We have animals that are elderly or have ongoing health issues who live with us permanently. Many of these animals can be sponsored for as little as £3 a month. Sweetpea is one of our very cheeky goats and she is a popular lady to sponsor. To find out more about sponsoring an animal please click here.

Tell us about one of your ponies!

Purdie is one of our little ponies. She is very friendly and has become a real favourite with our visitors and volunteers because she absolutely loves attention. She is a little unsteady when she walks because she has a clubbed foot on one of her front hooves and also one of the reasons why she was unwanted. Despite this, Purdie doesn’t let her disability get the better of her, as she can be particularly speedy when there might be food involved.

How can people help raise money for Raystede?

Fundraising is so important to us because we rely solely on donations and we couldn’t continue helping animals without our fantastic fundraisers. It costs £8000 a day to run Raystede and care for all the animals, so raising funds is an absolute must for us. Here are some ideas below:

Take part in a challenge event – running, cycling, climbing, abseiling | Cake sales | Wine tasting evening | Sponsored dog walk | Car boot sale | Plan and create your own event | Pop in to Raystede and give cash donations | Pay money onto a JustGiving page | Become a fundraising volunteer

You can find more information about fundraising here.

What’s the best thing about working for Raystede?

Working with animals is a huge privilege, we get just as much from them as they do from us. It’s remarkable to see a scared, shut down, nervous animals come to us and then with lots of love, patience and care they come out of their shell and become very playful and confident. There is nothing ore rewarding than seeing one of our animals trot off to a new home with a big smile on their face. We also help people who are in impossible situations and can’t keep their pets. It’s a very difficult decisions to give up a much-loved pet but we are here to ensure that animal is safe and will find a new home where they will be happy.  This is also why it’s so important not to advertise pets online, you don’t know who will take them or where they will end up.

What kind of people do you tend to employ?

Raystede has over 85 employees we have people who work in our café and charity shop, a vet and a veterinary nurse, animal care staff, a fundraising department and a talented maintenance team who build and maintain all the animal housing and tend to the site every day to make sure it’s safe and functional for our animals, staff, volunteers and visitors.  We look for passionate, talented, personable and hardworking people who love animals and want to help the charity succeed. Our staff always go the extra mile for the animals.

Tell us something people might not know about Raystede

We were featured on Channel 4 for a whole week in August 2019. ‘Animal Rescue Live’ hosted by Noel Fitzpatrick, Steve Jones and Kate Quilton filmed the program from Raystede and featured many of our animals, staff and volunteers to help us rehome more animals and raise much-needed funds too.

Tell us about your charity

Raystede is a rescue centre and animal charity based in East Sussex that relies solely on donations to operate. We rescue, rehome, rehabilitate and provide sanctuary (lifelong homes) for over 2000 animals a year.  We have over 100 volunteers and 85 staff who all work tirelessly to give unwanted animals a better life.

Do you do any work with schools and education?

Raystede has a dedicated education team who visit local schools and community groups to teach the next generation of pet owners about responsible pet ownership. We also welcome a wide range of school and community groups to visit us at Raystede and take part in learning activities with some of the animals we have on-site.  Last year we visited almost 3000 young people and welcomed a further 1500 to our centre. For more information about our education programmes click here.

How can people become an animal carer?

We invite our younger visitors to join the Raystede team and become an ‘animal carer for a day’. They pay a fee of £50 to become a senior carer (13-17-year-olds) and £35 to become a junior carer (9-12-year-olds). Both groups will be involved in a range of fun activities throughout their day at Raystede. These events allow animal lovers to learn about what it takes to care for our animals and to help us with the daily routine. For more information on becoming an animal carer for the day click here.

Can people go and visit Raystede?

Raystede is open from 10am to 4pm seven days a week, apart from Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year’s Day. Entry is free, but donations are welcome. We also have free parking. Dogs on leads are also welcome here. Visitors can go and see our animals, as well as go shopping in our Raystede shop. We also have a café for those looking for some lunch, a cold/hot drink and our amazing homemade cakes. In addition, we have a pet goods store where we stock a range of products to make your pets feel at home. Lastly, we do different events and activities for our visitors to take part in.