Hopefield Animal Sanctuary welcomes visitors after lockdown

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Kids were excited to get back to see the animals - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary opened its doors on April 12 to welcome back visitors who want to see its 500 different animals.

We spoke to the office manager, Sophie Kemp, to see how the sanctuary has been coping under lockdown restrictions and to hear about its preparations for the new opening.

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Toddlers are excited about seeing their favourite animals after five months - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

Have there been more referrals this past year, and if so, of what animals?

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Friends arrive in groups of up to six - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

We've definitely seen an increase in the number of animals looking for new homes - cockerels in particular.

Sadly, there seemed to be a trend of people purchasing chicks, or hatching eggs during the first lockdown, and when the chicks grew up and people realised that they were in fact male, they turned to seeking new homes for them due to noise complaints or aggression among other cockerels. 


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Since January 1 2021, we've had 313 animal rehoming requests, with 12 per cent of those being cockerels.

Why is the sanctuary so important?

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Everyone gets their temperature checked on arrival - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

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We're home to over 500 animals who have come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have suffered horrific abuse and neglect, others were simply unwanted pets or who out-lived their owners. 

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary is funded solely by donations, and we receive no government funding. The majority of our income is generated through being open to the public, and without raising these vital funds, the future of the sanctuary would remain uncertain. 

How have the past few months been as the sanctuary was closed - has it struggled? 

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Hopefield is home to over 500 animals who have come from a variety of backgrounds - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

It has been incredibly difficult for the sanctuary during the pandemic - as previously mentioned, the majority of our income is generated through visitor income, and without this, we had to change our fundraising methods.

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Friends and sponsors of the sanctuary were invited to a special opening day, ahead of the official reopening to the public - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

We successfully applied for a few grants, and whilst we were lucky enough to fall into the leisure and hospitality sector which allowed us to claim some government funding, we have received nothing based on the fact that we're an animal charity. 

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five months - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

We also had to stop volunteers from being on site for a number of months over the winter, and were running on our core team of staff (less than 10 people). Everyone pulled together and worked so hard to ensure our animals received the best level of care, despite the challenges they faced. 

What are you most looking forward to as restrictions ease?

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Saying hello to the Japanese racoon dogs - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

We're looking forward to having visitors back on site again as it's amazing to see the connections that people make with our animals.

We're hoping that we'll be able to host events (to some extent) later on in the year as well, as we have not been able to hold a fun day since September 2019, which feels like a lifetime ago.

Brentwood, Essex, UK. 12th April 2021. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary reopens for the first time in five

Making donations to the sanctuary - Credit: Ricci Fothergill


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