Founded in 2019, Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife is a community-driven organisation that has made an enormous impact in the region.
In an interview with Rebecca Ward, the vice-chair of the group, we delved into their extraordinary journey and their commitment to rehabilitating and nurturing injured animals in and around Tameside.
Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife
The project started as a humble endeavour with a few dedicated individuals.
Danny McKay is the chair of the group, and with their dedicated team of volunteers, they have been making a huge difference to wildlife.
Rebecca, who joined the group in 2021, recounts how they began by taking in, rescuing, and rehabilitating local wildlife.
Their mission was to provide a lifeline to animals in need, as the traditional avenues for help were often overwhelmed.
The group soon realised that the region lacked proper facilities for rehabilitating wild animals, which resulted in many unfortunate euthanisations.
A Wildlife Dilemma
Rebecca revealed their innovative approach to this dilemma, “We’ve linked up with vets all across Manchester, where people can drop off injured wildlife, and we take care of the rehabilitation.
“The RSPCA are not always available and are massively in demand, so we’re hoping to plug that gap by helping out animals in need who have been injured or need medical help.”
This collaboration with local veterinarians allows them to give a second chance to countless animals that would otherwise face grim outcomes.
Operating from their own homes initially, the group faced obvious space constraints, forcing them to turn away animals in dire need of help.
On average, they receive over 600 calls a month for wildlife assistance.
Realising the urgency of the situation, they sought a more spacious solution.
A New Home For Wildlife in Tameside
They had a significant breakthrough when they secured a piece of land near Dane Bank, next to the cricket club.
This generous offer from the local community allowed them to embark on their journey to create an animal sanctuary.
While they have made significant progress, including an admissions room for the public to drop off animals, and even a hospital, there is still much work to be done.
In an unexpected turn of events, the group applied for funding from Mosley Soup and received a grant of £1,700.
This funding has enabled them to purchase the necessary materials to expand their animal sanctuary and further their mission.
Furthering the Mission
Currently, Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife is caring for seven barn owls, and their story serves as an inspiring example of what a passionate and dedicated community can achieve when they come together to protect and nurture the local wildlife.
They also care for all sorts of birds, foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, bats, geese, deer, and many more varieties of animals.
With the owls, it all began with the alarming trend of people purchasing barn owls as pets, only to discover that these magnificent birds do not make suitable companions.
Rebecca shared with us the troubling reality, “People thought they could buy a barn owl for as little as £50 on the marketplace, which is ridiculous.
“It’s insane. These birds, once in captivity, can be quite destructive.”
Recognising the dire situation, the group stepped in to provide a refuge for these displaced owls.
However rehabilitating these owls presented a unique challenge, as Rebecca explained, “It’s illegal to release captive bred barn owls back into the wild that have previously been owned.
“So, we offered to hand-rear them and get them imprinted on us.”
This unconventional approach involved the practice of falconry and establishing a special connection between the owls and their caregivers.
These owls will be the first residents of two large bird-of-prey aviaries at the newly acquired Dane Bank sanctuary.
However, this is just the beginning of their ambitious plans.
The Next Steps for Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife
Rebecca went on to outline the next steps, “We’ve got a detailed plan for the build.
“It includes two large owl aviaries, three additional bird of prey aviaries, enclosures for corvids, pigeons, small birds, foxes, badgers, and even a bat flight cage, as I’m a licensed bat rehabber.”
This extensive plan reflects their commitment to providing a haven for a wide range of local wildlife.
Their vision extends to education, as they plan to obtain the necessary licenses to conduct educational outreach programs.
Educating the public with Outreach Programs
They’ve already collaborated with Tameside College, offering hands-on experience to students studying animal management.
Additionally, they’ve engaged with local scouts groups and organised bat talks and bat walks.
These efforts will undoubtedly expand as they continue to grow and secure the required licenses.
Looking forward to phase two, Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife envisions creating duck enclosures around their pond, providing a suitable habitat for ducks to thrive.
The work of Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife exemplifies what can be achieved when a passionate and determined community comes together to protect and nurture the local wildlife.
Challenges for The Group
The work of Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife is impressive, but it’s not without its challenges.
As the group gears up for phase two of their ambitious project, they find themselves in need of more funds to bring their vision to life.
Their commitment to rehabilitating and caring for local wildlife takes its toll on their resources, as Rebecca shared with us.
The financial demands of their work are significant, with equipment costs that can be daunting.
For instance, the purchase of just one incubator, used for emergencies or young animals who can not thermal regulate, set them back £800, illustrating the financial hurdles they face regularly.
When you add the expenses for medications, food, and other necessities, it’s clear that Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife operates on a tight budget.
The High Financial Cost
Rebecca also highlighted their annual expenditure, which includes spending around £500 in January alone to procure medications and supplies for the busy spring and summer months.
The financial strain extends beyond equipment and medications; it’s also a matter of dedicating personal time and resources to the cause.
With only a small group of around 12 active members covering Tameside, they often find themselves stretched thin in their pursuit of saving local wildlife.
Despite these challenges, they maintain a fierce determination to expand their mission and improve their animal rescue and rehabilitation capabilities.
Their immediate goal is to be fully operational for Stage 1 of their Dane Bank sanctuary by the end of next spring.
Collaborating with Tameside College
Their outreach efforts, including collaborations with educational institutions like Tameside College, aim to reconnect people with nature and create awareness about the importance of wildlife preservation.
They aspire to instil a sense of responsibility for the welfare of local wildlife in future generations.
The success stories that motivate the group include securing the Dane Bank land, a significant achievement that opened the door to their sanctuary project.
Additionally, their partnership with the Mosley Soup family, which yielded substantial funding, has been a crucial lifeline for their work.
Despite the hurdles and limitations, Tameside’s People for Wildlife remains driven by their passion for animals and the desire to be their voice in a world where the wild often goes unnoticed.
Their commitment to providing a haven for wildlife, educating the community, and advocating for the welfare of animals is both heartening and inspirational.
As they continue to nurture and protect the local wildlife of Tameside, they look forward to expanding their reach, educating the community, and advocating for more compassionate and considerate practices, such as reducing the impact of fireworks on animals, a cause close to their hearts.
Rebecca candidly shared the emotional and financial toll their work takes, with wildlife rehabbers often sacrificing their own resources and time.
A Labour of Love
It’s a labour of love, and it comes with heartache as well, as they face losses and difficult decisions.
The group has gained momentum in recent months, with growing recognition and outreach efforts.
They’ve received support from local media, and people are reaching out to offer their assistance.
Looking forward, Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife envisions a future where their sanctuary and educational programs expand, allowing them to reach more people and save more animals.
Creating a Wildlife Sanctuary
Their long-term goals include creating a wildlife sanctuary that can quadruple their intake of animals, ensuring that no injured or abandoned wildlife is turned away.
In 10 years, they hope to have a well-established sanctuary with a dedicated crew, allowing them to focus on educational and community-based activities, including visits to schools and colleges.
Their vision includes a growing base of volunteers and consistent funding to meet the ever-present needs of wildlife rehabilitation.
The journey of Tameside’s People 4 Wildlife is a testament to the power of dedication and compassion in the face of challenging circumstances.
With your support and the community’s commitment, their mission to protect and nurture Tameside’s wildlife is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Together, we can create a brighter future for the wildlife of Tameside.
If you’d like to donate to this amazing community group, you can do so by clicking here
You can also check out what they are up to on their Facebook page here