Hannah Bates – Cat Rescue Charity
Hannah is the head of the Family department at Levi Solicitors in Leeds. She qualified November 2006 and joined the firm in August 2012. Hannah provides expert advice in relation to family law issues with a particular emphasis on the resolution of divorce and financial issues. Hannah frequently represents high net worth individuals where cases involve trusts, inherited wealth, private and public pension schemes and business related assets. Hannah provides advice regarding cohabitation agreements, pre and post nuptial agreements to couples who wish to protect their assets before embarking upon a marriage or cohabitation, ensuring that they have all of the information required to make appropiate decisions. Hannah is also a collaborative lawyer and family mediator.
How did you find out about Haworth Cat Rescue?
An article about Haworth Cat Rescue in the local paper caught my eye. It stated that the independent cat homing charity was seeking to appoint new trustees with specialist skills to play a key role in its future development plans to establish a large purpose built homing centre in the Airedale Corridor. A new permanent centre on land owned by the charity is needed to better meet the current and future needs of the 700 square miles it serves within West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and East Lancashire. The article said trustees with a legal background were required so I decided to get in touch.
What does the centre do?
Life at the homing centre is not easy. The charity operates with just 14 cat pens and three kitten pens, and it’s only thanks to its committed network of foster carers who look after pregnant and nursing queens, and orphan kittens, that it is able to respond to as many calls for help as it does. So far this year it has taken in more than 400 cats and kittens but sadly this is just a fraction of those on its long waiting list to come in. It relies heavily on volunteers in its day to day running. I spent a week working hands-on at the rescue so that I could more fully understand its logistical and financial challenges, the pressures of dealing with the public within this sort of environment, and the emotional ups and downs that are part and parcel of animal rescue. I felt this would hold me in good stead as an effective and proactive trustee.
On my first visit to the centre I fell in love with Splodge the only kitten from that litter that didn’t have a home. Unlike his siblings he is black and white which tends to be less popular. As soon as I saw him I was bowled over by how adorable he was. Not only was he very cute, he was playful, too – and definitely had a mind of his own! I knew then and there that he’d make an ideal companion for my other three, Smudge, Sausage and Mash. The year-long kitten season that has emerged over recent years means irresponsible pet owners who do not have their cat neutered are contributing even more to the cat welfare crises in the region. This year the charity has taken in more than 120 kittens.
I have been shocked and saddened by how many cats and kittens are abandoned in cruel ways. Some of the lucky ones which have been rescued by members of the public were found dumped in remote places such as the moors or thrown away in skips. There is a big problem in Yorkshire that needs to be addressed.
What is the future for Haworth Cat Rescue?
There is a need for Haworth Cat Rescue to establish a much bigger centre to serve the needs of the region and its communities. Home repossession, domestic violence, terminal illness, dementia, mental health issues, old age and death are just a handful of reasons why people turn to the charity in desperation trying to find somewhere safe for their pet where it will be given a second chance. The recession has meant more people are struggling to cope and animals fall victim as a consequence.
Haworth Cat Rescue has been tirelessly fundraising to meet its increased running costs (vet bills alone were over £5000 in August) and the building of a new centre. Purchasing land will be the first major step and requires significant funding. It is also working towards creating diverse income streams. Its first charity shop is opening in October and the running costs for its first year will be financed by a legacy. It is a misconception to think that animal charities are regularly left legacies. In fact the majority struggle to survive because they are not entitled to national lottery funding, are overlooked by big business, and barred from applying to many trusts and foundations on the basis that they do not help people! As a lawyer I am also now more aware of how important it is to make sure provision is made for pets in the event of death, so that they have somebody to love and care for them. Haworth Cat Rescue has a no-kill policy so even elderly cats are homed – and the charity continues to pay for pre-existing or age-related medial conditions.
It has been fantastic getting involved in the strategy and decision making process, and providing my professional experience by engaging in the interview process for the charity shop manager and appointment of a fundraiser who will spearhead the new centre campaign.
For more information about Haworth Cat Rescue go to www.haworthcatrescue.org