A Purrrfect Visit

In June 2021 the RSPCA Canterbury & District Branch team welcomed a group of Kickstart apprentices as part of the fully funded government scheme. Alongside their work, the Kickstart apprentices have been taking part in monthly mentoring sessions. These are delivered by world class athlete mentor and Commonwealth gold medalist, Claire Bennett, supported by national charity, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

The wellbeing and employability mentoring programme aims to build skills, improve confidence and self esteem and help the young people get ready for employment after the Kickstart apprenticeship scheme finishes. 

Kickstarting Confidence: Meeting the Employment Minister

During one of the mentoring sessions in October, the team had an exciting visit from the Secretary of State for Employment, Mims Davies. Mims visited the apprentices and was  keen to see the huge progress that the Kickstart programme was having on the young people and the charity.

Mims participated in a few activities, such as a quick cone grab icebreaker and a Dragon’s Den style activity that allowed Mims to get to know the Kickstart young people. After these team building sessions the young people really showed amazing new found confidence as they each delivered a ‘personal elevator pitch’ to a panel of judges whilst being filmed on what make them a great asset to the scheme and the RSPCA. The formidable panel included staff from the Department of Work and Pensions, RSPCA Branch Director and Mims herself! 

The young people in turn received feedback from the panel and it was clear what incredible progress each young person has made by becoming an apprentice for the RSPCA.

Official  KittenNaming

Mims was welcomed to a tour around the cattery to see all the cats and kittens that had found themselves at the animal centre. Not only did she get to cuddle some of the kittens but Mims and her team got to name three of the kittens in our care Mimi, AJ and Bill. All of whom were adopted the very next day! A dream!


Time to test the found confidence….again!

After a busy day, BBC South East news team conducted an interview with two of the apprentices Chantelle and Arthur, as well as an interview with Branch Director, Sarah. The apprentices were asked questions about how the past year, living with the pandemic and COVID-19 had affected their work life and what they thought of the Kickstart opportunity.

Thankfully for this group of apprentices – and many others across the UK, joining the Kickstart scheme through the Government programme has helped to teach them a number of skills and give them the confidence to gain employment after the apprenticeship ends.

For a small charity like the RSPCA Canterbury and District the skills, enthusiasm and ‘more hands on deck’ approach has been much needed, at a time when the rehoming centre and charity shops have never been busier.

If you are unemployed aged 18-25 and registered with the Job Centre then be sure to look out for the next round of Kickstart apprenticeship with the RSPCA Canterbury and District Branch that will be advertised shortly.

Tweet from Mims Davies; https://twitter.com/mimsdavies/status/1446231295659548672?s=21 

Tweet from Dame Kelly Holmes Trust: https://twitter.com/DameKellysTrust/status/1446476726415118343?s=20

Exciting News:

RSPCA Tankerton Charity Shop wins ‘Best Dressed Window’ in Whistable Oyster Festival Competition

Whistable Oyster Festival competition winners! This month two of our charity shops took part in the Whitstable Oyster Festival Best Dressed Charity Shop Window Display competition, which is based on the book and TV series‘Whitstable Pearl’ by local author, Julie Wassmer. We are very excited and proud to announce that our Tankerton charity shop has been named as the winner of the Best Dressed Shop Window competition! Not only this, but our Whitstable shop has also been highly commended by the judges and community alike, so we would like to say congratulations to both of our shops for working hard to create these wonderful displays. We are very proud of our team of staff and volunteers!

The Whitstable Festival is an incredibly popular and long standing festival that celebrates coastal life here in East Kent, with the Landing of the Oysters, an oyster eating competition and a range of community and fringe events in Whitstable and the surrounds.

Elaine, RSPCA Tankerton Shop Manager answered a few questions and gave a few of her thoughts on this great achievement:

‘Who helped you in creating the window display?’

Mostly our amazing volunteer, Deirdre.

‘Where did the ideas come from and what inspired you?’

We were given a scene which was based on the Whitstable Pearl book written by author Julie Wassmer. Using a lot of Whitstable related items we set up an art exhibition and took inspiration from the main character in the book who owns a restaurant inspiring the table scene.

‘Was there another design that you were close to using or was the team set on this idea from the beginning?’

Our basic outline from the beginning was used, but over time what we used and how it was used changed as we went on.

‘What was the visit like from the judges and how did you feel?’

They first came around on Tuesday and there were 3 judges altogether. They said well done and I could see them outside the window talking quite positively. At first I didn’t think we had won.

‘Could you tell us how you felt the moment you found out that Tankerton had won?’

One of the volunteers called me to ‘come quick’ and I ran out onto the shop floor and they were outside with the trophy. The judges were lovely and they said they loved the idea with the different elements used, it was really lovely to see.

‘How did you feel upon knowing that not only had Tankerton won but the RSPCA Whitstable shop had also been highly commended?’

I felt really proud! We had worked quite hard on the community event with the display. I am very proud of us, especially after such a challenging fourteen months dealing with the impact of the pandemic. I feel proud to have reopened the shop, welcomed back our regular customers and now winning this award is the icing on the cake!


The Tankerton Charity shop is always keen to receive donations of any good quality unwanted goods, clothing, etc and is open for donation drop offs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am. Please do call ahead if you would like to donate goods at any other time: 01227 771369

apprentices, Kickstart scheme, staff and volunteers, RSPCA

By Chantelle, Fundraising and Comms Kickstarter Apprentice 

This past year has understandably been quite difficult for many. So exciting news or a positive change is always welcome. On the 21st June, I, along with six other apprentices were welcomed by the RSPCA Canterbury & District team. We joined the charity as part of the government Kickstart Scheme for the next six months. Each of us will be trained and taught many new skills by the team. This will be a huge boost,  helping us go forward. It is a great opportunity in order to not only see how the charity operates, but to assist in helping the RSPCA branch and gain valuable life and work experience.

RSPCA Values

During the induction week, the team organised a range of activities and icebreakers for the apprentices and staff to get to know each other. We learnt about the RSPCA’s history and about the financial side of the charity.  It was interesting to get an insight into how the charity is structured, their place in society and of course what happens behind the scenes.

Every workplace has expectations and the RSPCA Canterbury & District is no exception. Especially as the team works with people and animals daily, it is important to understand the RSPCA values. This ensure everyone meets behavioural standards in order to give the best care and customer service.

Retail and Inspectors 

Of course, the branch is not complete without the retail staff, trustees and volunteers who work so hard to keep the charity running. RSPCA Inspectorate team member, Emma spoke to all of us during the week going into detail about their roles and what they do. Emma kindly spoke about what an RSPCA Inspector might have to do on a daily basis. She explained that no two days are be the same and shared insight into how welfare situations are handled. Some of the apprentices will work at the rehoming centre and others in the charity shops.  The rehoming centre volunteers and retail staff therefore also introduced themselves throughout the week, This has left the apprentices feeling even more welcome! 


I interviewed a few fellow apprentices to get their thoughts on how the week went.

What is your role?

Mark: “My job role is retail assistant.”

Arthur: “Animal care apprentice.”

Jake:  “Retail assistant.”

What was your favourite part of the week and why?

Jake: “Meeting all of the lovely staff and seeing the interesting items that get brought into the store.”

Arthur: “I enjoyed meeting new people and feeling like I’m actually doing something. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything because of COVID so it was just nice to finally return to some sort of normality.”

Mark: “My favourite part of the week was getting my head around the till because where I previously volunteered at is where I adapted this skill.”

Did you have any worries before starting your week and did you manage to settle those worries?

Jake: “The pressure from using the till but being able to ask for help at any point was good.”

Arthur: “I was a bit worried I wouldn’t enjoy it but deep down I knew it’d all be okay so in reality it was all good.”

What are you most excited about going forward?

Jake: “I’m excited for the future. In time, I will become more comfortable and confident with what I am doing which will make it all much easier.”

Arthur: “I’m excited to properly get into the swing of working and to feel comfortable knowing what I’m doing.”

Mark: “In regards to what to look forward to in the future is seeing this experience on my CV.”


The first week was a great experience and there’s so many more weeks to go for us to show off our hard work. The team was very positive and I’m sure we will all have an enjoyable time working together.

Look forward to keeping you all updated on our progress!


Toby rescue cat RSPCA Canterbury

We are currently recruiting for a new Business Development and Operations Leader for the Canterbury and District Branch of the RSPCA. We’re looking for an innovative leader with experience in developing and implementing strategic business plans, income generation, community engagement and overall branch management.

If you think you might be the just the leader we’re looking for, then please email recruitment@rspca-canterbury.org.uk no later than 15th February for an application form & job description.

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