Back in early February, we were looking at ways to help raise the funds needed to allow us to expand the rescue, but Covid-19 has sadly forced us to completely change our plans. Like so many, we had to react pretty much overnight to Covid-19, and quickly make the choices we felt were in the immediate best interests of both the animals and our human team. We felt that sending our volunteers home and essentially putting the rescue into stasis was the best choice when the initial 3 week lockdown was announced.
I can manage alone at the rescue for a short period of time, but long term this simply isn't possible. I have always been proud that Nibbles is entirely run by volunteers. This isn't always possible to achieve, and we have been incredibly lucky to find a wonderful team, who give up their time to help with the day to day care of the animals. Without them Nibbles couldn't exist, and our desire to expand the rescue falls at the wayside.
The only way Nibbles will be able to continue is for our volunteers to return. Covid-19 is going to be a long term problem and all we can do is find ways to work around it which will help ensure the safety of our volunteers. But to achieve this we have to carry out urgent work and we urgently require your support to get it done.
For a number of years we have used an old mobile home as our office, store room, and reception. The 'caravan' was on site when we bought the property back in 2013 and was already in a state of disrepair.
Although the caravan doesn't house the animals as a general rule. It has become a vital part of the rescue, allowing us to store sacks of food and supplies for the animals. It provides space for visitors to the rescue to sign necessary paperwork, it provides me with an office space, and an area to safely carry out health checks for the rabbits.
There have been a number of issues with the caravan over the last few years but we have been able to work around them. We have discussed either repairing or replacing it, but as we have been able to manage and it hasn't had a direct impact on our ability to function, these issues have never been considered as urgent, but rather as a luxury.
However, with Covid-19, these issues are now literally life or death for the rescue. The caravan has never had running water. Back in 2015 we did have a water pipe brought up to the caravan when we had water brought up to the rescue area, but it has never been connected. We had planned all along to provide hot running water for volunteers, and to provide a 'break room', but the funding had never been available and it was just as easy (and free) to use the facilities in the house.
My Mum is in her 70's, has asthma and a separate mild lung condition and as a result she needs to self isolate. This means that the house must now become off limits to volunteers. I hope that you can all understand that her safety is vital and we had no other option but to close off access.
This leaves our volunteers without the ability to wash hands. They have also lost the ability to heat food and sit comfortably to eat. With Covid-19, I can't just think about the safety of my dear Mum, but also that of our amazing team of volunteers. They need to be able to wash their hands on arrival, before they eat, and when they leave. To provide this we urgently need to get hot running water into the caravan. I had hoped that this would have been a simple and relatively inexpensive job. I was really and seriously wrong!
In 2018, the fuse box in the caravan blew. We believe this was due to one of the leaks in the roof. When this happened we seriously considered either rewiring the caravan and repairing the leaks or having it scrapped and a new build to take its place. We simply couldn't afford to do either and managed to find a work around by using a camping extension to get power into the caravan to boil kettles for hot water to clean the animal housing and run the laptop etc.
Heating water takes a lot of power, way too much power for our little camping extension that can't boil two kettles at once. My wonderful neighbour spoke to an electrician and as we have volunteers, the rescue is counted as a workplace, and as a result, by law, we have to have any electrical work signed off. We have discovered that our current set up to get power to both the caravan and rodent cabin doesn't meet regulations and we have to change this to create a safe working environment. That is before we even get to the ability for washing hands! Talk about opening a can of worms!
Firstly, we have to have a heavy duty cable run from a fuse box in our garage out to the rescue. This will have to be hooked up to both the caravan and the rodent cabin. The rodent cabin requires its own small fuse box and electrical sockets to power the light, heater, dehumidifier, fan and aircon. That's a job in itself!
To get power into the caravan we require a new fuse box and everything to be rewired to power a small running water heater and other needed electrical sockets and lights.
But there are yet more problems! We had half the floor replaced in early 2014, 6 years on and the other half of the floor is starting to sag. There are a number of issues with the roof leaking and damage to the windows which is causing water to get in. We haven't pushed ahead with repairs as we have never been sure of the long term future of the caravan, and neither have they been urgent with regards to the day to day running of the rescue.
As we now urgently need to provide hot water, and the cost and work involved in doing so, we also need to address the other problems. At present we can repair the caravan to give it a new lease of life, but in the not too distant future, should we continue to ignore the other issues, it will become beyond repair and obviously we need to deal with the leaks to protect the new wiring.
Our only option is to renovate and repair the caravan to allow for our volunteers to return and get the rescue back up and running. Not only is this the cheapest option available to the rescue, but it is also the quickest, when comparing it to the costs and time involved in opting for a complete replacement.
I feel terrible about having to appeal for the funds needed to carry out this urgent work and I wish that we weren't in a situation which made it so vital. Our caravan has been great and we've worked around all the issues, without it impacting on the charity's ability to run. But sadly, we simply can't find a work around this time. We need our volunteers, to have volunteers we not only need safe electrics, but we also need hot running water. Without volunteers, we either have to close the rescue altogether or continue indefinitely in this stasis period until we can get our volunteers back. So while this work doesn't directly impact the animals in our care, it does have a huge impact on the ability of Nibbles to continue to operate and be there for the rabbits and rodents who need help.
So I have no other choice but to ask for your help in raising funds towards this work. We have been incredibly lucky to find Geoff at West Wales Electrical Solutions. He is a true superhero and has offered us a discounted rate to carry out the work, as well as, donating a number of the parts needed. We can't thank him enough for his generosity, kindness, and support! Not only that, but he's roped in a fellow qualified electrician to help us out and they are due to start the work tomorrow morning!
As always my wonderful neighbour, Johnny, is able to give me a helping hand with the repairs to the caravan. He's another true hero who is always willing to help us out when needed.
All in we are looking at around £1,500 to get both the electrics sorted and the repairs carried out. This will wipe out the small sum we had saved towards building the new rabbit housing and both our vet fee and neutering reserve funds. While we can hold off with our new builds, we still need to be able to pay vet fees for unwell animals and have the funds available to neuter rabbits coming into our care. Wiping out these reserve funds will prevent us from being able to cater for any further animals and require us to reduce numbers until these reserves have been restored. It's a no win situation, we can have our volunteers back, but will be unable to fully reopen financially.
We know that it's such a difficult time for so many people right now and asking for donations just doesn't seem fair. But to get the rescue open again we are sadly forced to ask.
So please make a small donation of as little as £1.00 - £2.00. If enough of our wonderful supporters make this small contribution we can get this sorted and get the rescue back up and running. Donations can be made via our PayPal Giving Page at: