RSPCA recruits more than 1,000 'Wildlife Friends', but more are needed

One regular volunteer Charlotte Lister has placed in her garden in Retford, Nottinghamshire. <i>(Image: RSPCA)</i>
One regular volunteer Charlotte Lister has placed in her garden in Retford, Nottinghamshire. (Image: RSPCA)

The RSPCA is urging more people to demonstrate their passion for wildlife by signing up as a "Wildlife Friend", as the numbers of volunteers the charity has recruited for the scheme passes the 1,000 mark.

Wildlife Friends proved to be a "huge success" when it was first launched last year as part of the Big Help Out, the nationwide volunteering initiative launched to mark the King’s Coronation.

More than 1,100 nature lovers have registered as Wildlife Friends since the initiative was relaunched at the end of March, with all pledging to undertake a variety of simple tasks to protect and nurture wildlife in their own gardens and green spaces.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “I am really proud of the RSPCA’s Wildlife Friends programme because it is a real opportunity to engage the public to make a bigger difference for wildlife here in the UK.

"We launched the scheme as part of the King’s Coronation last year when we had 2,000 people sign up to be Wildlife Friends. But we need even more this year as wildlife faces big challenges in the year’s head.

“Wildlife Friends encourages people to engage in a range of different tasks to help wildlife. You can do things like leaving out bird feeders for birds, creating bug hotels or you can ensure drains aren’t blocked so animals are able to navigate around your gardens. There’s lots of different ways you can get involved.

“Volunteers are vital to the RSPCA and we are so proud that so many are signing up and completing a range of tasks to help wild animals in their communities. But there is much more to be done as wild animals face many challenges right now from things such as the encroachment of housing estates and road digging projects to the pressures of climate change.

“We are coming into the peak season of Spring and Summer for wildlife, so we need even more people to help us now.  If you want to sign up as a Wildlife Friend, visit our website."

For those who volunteer it means they are taking part in 2024’s Big Help Out (running from June 7 to 9), and are helping the RSPCA celebrate its 200th birthday on June 16.

By signing up, people will also be joining the RSPCA’s one million strong movement to change the lives of animals for the better.

The RSPCA fielded a staggering 83,000 reports about wildlife in need in 2023 when the "State of Nature" report revealed that the decline in wildlife is not letting up and one in six species are at risk of extinction in Great Britain.

With Spring drawing to a close, those signing up as Wildlife Friends have been taking part in 'No Mow May' by letting wild flowers grow in their gardens or outdoor spaces to help bees, butterflies and other insects to thrive.

Those without outside spaces have been able to contact their local councils to see if they are taking part and include a link to a document produced by Plantlife advising on managing road verges to preserve wildlife.

Building a bug hotel is another popular spring task for volunteers. Bug hotels help attract insects to gardens and they pollinate plants and break down compost.

Other spring tasks that have been completed by RSPCA Wildlife Friends this year include the planting of wildlife-friendly plants to support ecosystems and putting up bird boxes, like the one regular volunteer Charlotte Lister has placed in her garden in Retford, Nottinghamshire.

Points are earned by completing tasks and those who do all the tasks throughout the year will win a prize.

Volunteers earning 50 or more points during a season will be awarded a seasonal certificate.