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News 07.08.20

Raystede's recovery & plans to gradually reopen

Although we are closed to or general visitors, we are fully open to animals and we have quietly remained so throughout the whole of lockdown.

Some answers to your questions…

When is Raystede opening to visitors?

We will not be reopening until the Autumn.

We are lucky that people adore Raystede and that we are a popular place to visit. With social distancing and the ongoing threat of coronavirus, we cannot simply open up again to unlimited numbers of visitors, especially over the busy summer months when queues form for various facilities.

We know the wait may be disappointing and we would like to assure you that we do want our visitors to return but we have a truly complicated and unprecedented set of circumstances for Raystede. We must look at the best long-term interests of Raystede as an animal welfare charity.

Why can’t you get things going sooner?

One of our main challenges in preparing for reopening to visitors is the fact that more than 50 Raystede staff are currently not working as they are registered on the government furlough ‘job retention scheme’. We are using this as the government intended to retain the staff who are not able to work. We want to be in a position where we can afford to keep everyone employed long term.

Caring for staff, volunteers and visitors

Safeguarding our staff, volunteers and visitors from the virus is an essential priority. Our Animal care teams (equine, cattery, aviaries, small animals, kennels) are separated from each other with their own toilets and kitchens in order to minimise the risk of the virus. We could only achieve this by using areas designed for visitors like the public & disabled toilets situated in the cafe and other areas of the site. We are exceptionally proud that we put such stringent measures in place and none of our animal care teams have caught covid19. If the virus did sweep through our staff who would care for the 400 animals that currently rely on us? We are now planning what extra facilities we may need to bring in like portaloos and extra hand sanitising stations.

We have had no volunteers on site since mid-March and are planning to welcome back volunteers gradually, mainly to assist in animal care. We will be contacting volunteers directly about this.

When we reopen in the Autumn, a one-way system will be in place that will allow visitors to walk around parts of Raystede. There will be barriers at some of the animal enclosures in order to prevent multiple visitors stroking the animals. There will also be more toilets, hand-washing facilities and hand-sanitiser stations. We will be limiting the number of people in our charity shop, pet goods shop and our reception. The café is an awkward shape so food and drink will initially be served outdoors and takeaway only.

I thought you were losing income whilst closed?

Our café and shops make most of their profits during the busy summer months when we have huge numbers of visitors. As all our café and shop staff (plus many other staff) are on the government furlough scheme, it is financially better for Raystede not to reopen to visitors at this time. Profits are dependent on something we cannot have in the next few months - high levels of visitor footfall. You can support us by purchasing goods from our eBay store.

What about rehoming and animal welfare?

We are an animal welfare charity and this is our main priority whilst working within government guidelines to keep everyone safe.

We are expecting an influx of animals to Raystede over the next 2-3 months and we already have a list of people who have contacted us over the past few months wanting to adopt an animal – thank you, we have your details.

We are also mindful of the welfare of all our animals on site. Some animals are new to Raystede and have never experienced visitors whilst many other animals are now unused to seeing visitors, so we do need to reopen slowly to let our animals adjust.

I would like to adopt an animal, can I still apply?

Yes, we are very pleased to launch a new online application process for adopters which can be completed in just a few minutes. You must begin by filling out a form online (please do give us a call if you need assistance). We are not accepting any walk-in appointments as the site is closed.

Our expert animal care team will then consider your application and contact you if we need more details or to invite you to Raystede. Visit our Adoption pages.

I need to give up an animal, are you able to help?

Yes, we are accepting animals into Raystede by appointment only. If you need to rehome your pet/s, please contact us and we will give you the advice you need. Please click Here for more information.

How will you manage visitors in the Autumn?

We are setting up an online booking system to manage the numbers of visitors on site. This will be very similar to the National Trust system but ours will be free of charge to book, we will also offer telephone booking for those that need it. We do not have this system set up yet and we want to get it right – easy, quick, no hassle for visitors so please bear with us.

Will I have to pay to come to Raystede?

We have no plans to make people pay to come to Raystede and see the work they support so generously.

We always invite visitors to make a voluntary donation but we are not able to charge a compulsory entry fee because Raystede is not a zoo or park. We are an animal welfare charity and our purpose is rehoming, sanctuary and education. Visitors are an added bonus for Raystede.

I would like to visit - what happens next?

Please keep an eye on our social media and website and look out for further information over the Summer. We will write and email to everyone for whom we hold contact details.

Thank you for your continued support – you have no idea how much it means to have your messages of encouragement. You are keeping the charity going and enabling Raystede to offer excellent animal care and find the perfect match for animals seeking their forever home.

How can I keep up to date with the current situation at Raystede?

Keep checking our website which is updated regularly. We post on social media most days. Our magazine is mailed out once or twice a year and we also send out an email newsletter every couple of weeks.

Subscribe to our Newsletter and stay up to date


What about all the stuff in my garage that I’ve been keeping for Raystede?

We know that many of you have been storing items for our charity shop – thank you. We are very sorry that we cannot take your donations at this time. Firstly, we don’t have any staff working (all furloughed) who could organise the sorting of the stock and secondly, we don’t have anywhere to store the goods while the shop is not selling. If you can hang on to your goods until September, that would be amazing.

If you have good quality items that we can re-sell, please save them for us until we are able to safely accept them again. Or, maybe consider selling them online and donating the proceeds to us. There’s a few things we can’t accept as they cost us vital funds to dispose of them Click HERE for details.

What about donations of pet goods, pet food and old newspapers?

We started accepting donations of Pet Food and Pet Goods from Monday 6 July. We would be very grateful for pre-loved, good condition beds and toys, un-opened food and treats and other non-perishable pet goods. Please telephone 01825 840252 to arrange a drop-off appointment. We are staggering arrival times to ensure we can maintain social distancing.

Am I still able to buy things for my pet from Raystede?

We are offering a Pet Food and Pet Goods collection service by appointment. Please telephone 01825 840252 or email: retail@raystede.orgwith your requirements and we will reply with availability and prices. We are currently offering collection appointments 7 days a week from our main gate.

I am currently at home, do you need any short-term foster carers?

During the coronavirus crisis, we have received many offers of foster care for which we are extremely grateful. However, we are unable to process applications for new carers wishing to foster during the pandemic.

We ask foster applicants to consider whether they can help longer term and not just during this difficult time. If you may be able to help with fostering after this pandemic, please visit our website to learn more and download an application form HERE

Do you need any volunteers?

To assist with social distancing on site, we ask that existing volunteers do not attend Raystede at this time but please keep in touch with us and let us know if you’re happy to be ‘on stand-by’ should we need you. We are not able to recruit any new volunteers but please do apply HERE.

I have a specific question, how can I contact Raystede?

Please use the email address: info@raystede.org for all enquiries and they will be allocated to the relevant section. You can also continue to call our main line 01825 840252.

Useful Telephone Numbers & emails:

General Enquiries: 01825 840252

Rehoming: rehoming@raystede.org or 01825 880468

Peaceways Pet Crematorium: 07985 925378

Fundraising and to donate: 01825 840747.

You can also donate via our website: https://donorbox.org/raystede

Is your Peaceways Pet Crematorium Service still operating?

Yes, please call 07985 925378

Thank you so much from the animals and Team at Raystede. We are so grateful for your support at this time. We wish you and your families and friends keep safe and well. We miss seeing our wonderful visitors and supporters and hope to be able to welcome you again soon.

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