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Changes At Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home

The last few months have changed the world around us, and within the gates of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, we have had to adapt, prioritise, and plan for a new future.

The Home is certainly not new to challenges, we face them every day with a determination to help both pets and humans who need us most, whether they be victims of family break-ups, social problems like drugs or alcohol, lost jobs, bereavement or changes of family circumstances that bring financial or social stress.

Only five years ago, the Home appointed its first ever CEO who developed its first strategic plan. We always felt that despite our challenges, we knew where we were going. Our vision was strong because it was based on our belief that every dog or cat, however awful the circumstances they came from, deserved a second chance to find a loving home. Our local community of Edinburgh and the Lothians have shown us that they believe it too, and have invested in us in too many ways to thank. We’ll be forever grateful to them.

COVID-19 was something we could never have imagined. Suddenly, our pet boarding service had to shut with immediate effect and our charity shops also closed their doors. Fundraising events were cancelled, corporate engagement dropped off, and many other income streams dried up.

Budgets were slashed and nearly half of our passionate staff were furloughed to try to make the most of the scheme and save some costs. Staff who were left behind felt the weight of responsibility to continue our vital work with stray and unwanted pets, and to find new and creative ways to find the money to recoup our losses.

I couldn’t be prouder of how my team has responded to these challenges, or more grateful for the support of our local community, who rallied behind us in our hour of need. It is heart-breaking to say that this has not been enough to shield the Home from the devastating financial losses that we’ve experienced over the last few months, which currently exceed £650,000.

We now have enough reserves to last us to the end of 2020, but beyond that point would be incredibly uncertain without significant changes to the way we work, the services we offer and the shape of the organisation as a whole.

That is why today we are announcing some changes.

The closure of our Stockbridge and Portobello shops will be made permanent, along with an end to our pet boarding service. These services have been closely examined, and with uncertainty around the future of both the retail and travel sector, along with the significant investment we would need to make to ensure the safety of our staff, customers and volunteers, they have been deemed no-longer sustainable areas of income-generation.

Likewise, we will be making changes to roles across the organisation, including fundraising, communications, retail, business support, and within our kennel and cattery teams. These changes will allow us to refocus on areas of work that are mission-critical, or have the best chances of financially supporting this work in the new socio-economic climate. I am devastated to say that this means that 15 members of staff have now been made redundant.

It is incredibly difficult to write these words. I know just how hard each and every member of my team has worked to make these roles and services a success. We owe them everything for where we are today, along with the many supporters and volunteers who’ve helped us along the way. I can only trust that these painful decisions will ensure the future of the Home and most of all, the future of the animals and their owners who need us today, tomorrow and for many years to come. They will always come first.

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home has existed for nearly 140 years, through two world wars, recessions, and immeasurable political and socio-economic shift. Today we can add a global pandemic to the Home’s history books, and I know that one day soon we will close this chapter and look back with both sadness and pride on our resilience in these difficult times.

I would like to take the time to thank each and every person who has supported us, if there is any more you feel you can do, please visit www.edch.org.uk/donate.

– Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, CEO

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