Green Fingers Volunteers

Fay and John memorial bench
Fay and John, Belfast Adoption Centre

How long have you been volunteering for Cats Protection and what attracted you to the role?

Fay and I have been volunteering with CP for just over four years. Shortly after losing our first cat to old age six years ago we thought we should give another cat a home and went along to Belfast Adoption Centre with the idea that we would take the cat that nobody wanted. One of the staff, Sue, who has since become a very good friend, showed us around and when we got to 'One Eyed' Jack she told us everybody just walked past him. This was the cat for us and he is unquestionably the best cat in the world.

Over the next two years we attended open days and events and got to know more of the staff and slowly came to realise that there was a need for volunteers at the centre so we filled out the required forms and eventually arrived one Wednesday morning early ready for work.

How did you find out about the role?

During the open days we got talking to the staff and this along with leaflets gave us some idea of the various facets of volunteering.

What’s involved in a typical day/hours in your role?

One of the things we always felt was that first impressions are so important and although everyone who comes to CP is there to see the cats, if the place can be brightened up with a few flowers or plants it will maybe enhance their visit just a little. So we approached our manager, Bel, and she was happy to give us a free rein to do more or less as we wanted but we always ask her permission if we want to introduce anything new. 

We now arrive mid-morning and help with cleaning if it is not finished, then start with watering, dead-heading, re-planting or whatever needs done. Obviously gardening is seasonal so in summer we could be working with the plants most of the day but in winter there is much less to do so we would spent our time with the cats most of whom appreciate the human contact.

Do you have any previous/career experience that helps you in your volunteering role?

Not really. We obviously love cats and even more so since being at CP. We enjoy spending time around our own garden but are certainly not particularly good gardeners.

What does volunteering mean to you?

It is an interest that we both share and we get to meet and know the staff and other volunteers a lot of whom have become friends - some very good friends. With those friendships we have access to a wealth of knowledge of feline health as well as the many courses where we have had expert tuition. We have a much better understanding of cats now than when we started and of course we get to spent time with cats that have often been on the receiving end of the worst of human nature and it gives us the chance to try to show the cats that not all humans are bad.

Why did you choose to volunteer for Cats Protection?

In a similar way that we don't choose a cat, a cat chooses us, I think somehow Cats Protection chose us.

What would you say to other people who are considering volunteering?

Go for it. You will meet the best of people and the cats aren't too bad either.