Our staff took the reins - as they do everyday truthfully. 2020 was a year of ups and downs but through it all, we had a constant - we had our staff.
Now as a charity staff can sometimes be a controversial subject for some. Well at Crosskennan, we wouldn’t be able to survive without staff - even when we are surrounded by generous volunteers the workload is still too large. Most days the staff spend the Whole of the day just moving poo from one end of the sanctuary to the other. Limited space means more animals in single areas - causing more mess, damage, and of course, they are constantly eating or grazing, and what goes in has to come out.
Personally, I have seen staff coming in a couple of hours earlier than their shift time just so they can spend some extra time with the animals; whether it be training, walking dogs, or just spending a little extra one on one time with that special rescue. It's such incredible dedication and one that never seems to waver.
Don't take our word for it though, here is the view of one of our volunteers;
One of the staff has been training Vision, the young horse I am adopting, and teaching me how to work with him as well. Vision adores her and is so receptive to her training. He has learned so much and progressed so well under her guidance - as have I. She is so dedicated to the sanctuary and so generous with her time - her love for the animals is huge.
Adele - Volunteer
The Staff know every horse and pony in the sanctuary like the back of their hand, some of them since the hour they were born. They remember every like and dislike, and every quirk - which foot they don’t like lifting, who likes their ears being scratched and who doesn’t, how many grams of each supplement they take, and can spot a horse or pony in mild discomfort from a mile off. They are invaluable to the sanctuary and it couldnt function without their time, care, dedication and love.
Our staff has had to deal with the same year as the rest of us; with one difference, the job never changed. Yes, there were various extra hoops to jump through and the loss of volunteers, etc. But it was business as usual at the yard; animals still needed care daily and others needed help.
The most noticeable thing about working at the sanctuary during lockdown was as soon as you walked through the gates it was business as normal. Horses still needed to be fed. Dogs cats chickens cared for. The level of care which had to be administered to these animals didn’t change and couldn’t be postponed because of lockdowns. However what did change was the number of animals which needed the sanctuary’s help. When volunteer numbers were dwindling as a result of isolating or shielding and fundraising impossible because of regulations the sanctuary again was pushed past capacity. Whole families of horses arrived, every spare area in the sanctuary was filled with kittens which needed to be hand reared. More and more animals needed help , many as a direct result of covid, others just because no one wanted them. No matter what their circumstances no animal was turned away. During a global pandemic, when the whole world was shutting down Crosskennan’s doors had to open wider to offer sanctuary and support to all those animals who needed it.
But there is something so special about working at Crosskennan, among the heavy workloads and exhausting days; of course, our volunteers say that so often, but our staff do too. For them there is a higher reward than any paycheck; especially considering some of our staff give time over voluntarily to assist when needed; a true mark of dedication to the animals and their wellbeing.
Animals didn't really notice the help they gave to staff and volunteers in a very trying year. Rescue horses, dogs, cats, and even chickens provided much-needed solace when the world locked down. They were and are always so happy to see you, even when it's 6 am on Xmas morning the sleep is still in their eyes; they hold no grudges only a friendly greeting every time.
So today we want to thank our staff for their dedication, their unwavering support, their time, their knowledge, and their patience is not just working with the animals but with us people too. We know for many of our staff, people are not what they signed up for; their background and knowledge are with animals and they excel in this, but they do so much for people too through training and helping.
This is not a 2020 thing, this is an every year thing, and we just want to extend our gratitude to them all; for always going that extra mile; or taking that extra second to check; for coming in and working in all weathers, and with animals who quite honestly could kill you if they so desired. Yes, it's a job like any other, but at times we imagine it is a rather thankless job so we want to ensure we share our thanks, that we acknowledge your work and your time.
Working at Crosskennan is not like most jobs; there isn't exactly a clocking in and out time; there are days that last well beyond home time; there are days when life and death can literally be witnessed within seconds of each other.
There are days when you don't want to get into the car because you've got a cold and it's raining and you just want to crawl back up into bed; usually after a nightmarish day before. But you do go to work, and immediately walking through the gates you're greeted with "Hellos" and shouts of "Where is my breakfast?", there is always a wet nose to boop or a bum to scratch. There is always someone so pleased to see you. On the hard days, when nothing seems to be going right, you've forgotten to order a supplement or feed, or one of the horses has got an injury; you sometimes feel like there is little point in continuing, your energy is zapped and you know it will just be one more thing that will make you snap. But then a soft nicker will be heard and you'll turn around, and it will be something stupid like they are trying to lick the walls again. But it makes you laugh, even for the briefest second and you think; yip, this is why I do it.
They know, the animals, when things are getting to breaking point and they always know what to say or do when you need it.
Working at Crosskennan is not easy, but every day, in the small ways, the rewards are incredible; with every nervous dog that makes you their friend, and every horse that stops coughing because you've got their supplement and feed just right; every day is hard, but I'll do it all again tomorrow just for those little things.