Chief Inspector Leanne HardyThis column was first published in the Daily Post; and is the first of Chief Inspector Leanne Hardy’s new column for the North Wales newspaper.

We know North Wales is a region packed full of animal lovers – and one of the things those involved with the RSPCA get asked about a lot is opportunities to volunteer with our charity.

The RSPCA is hugely fortunate to have people eager to help us out. As a charity, we need that support and, to borrow a phrase, we need you! So, we recently launched the #AnimalKind campaign – encouraging everyone to do their bit for creatures great and small. We want to highlight to people all the things they can do to join us in creating a world which is kinder to animals.

Indeed, as a charity, we rely entirely on the goodwill of the public to exist – so we want to take any opportunity we can to thank our fantastic volunteers, who across North Wales and beyond, are the lifeblood of the RSPCA. Our network of branches, animal centres and more offer loads of opportunities to get involved – whether it be holding a collection bucket, chatting to people at a community street-stall, or walking rescue dogs.

And here in North Wales, my inspectorate group is – for the first time – reaching out to people who may be interested in joining us as a Wildlife Casualty Volunteer. This is a unique, challenging but important volunteer role, supporting our frontline inspectorate officers across the region.

Those involved in the scheme are given specialist training to collect, transport and – where appropriate – release sick, injured or suffering small mammals and birds; which would prove such an important role in helping us respond to animal welfare problems. From injured hedgehogs to tiny fledglings, there’ll be plenty to help keep volunteers busy in supporting our inspectorate.

In other parts of Wales, Wildlife Casualty Volunteers have already contributed towards some unique animal rescues – including the transportation of dozens of Manx shearwaters after they got caught up in stormy weather in Pembrokeshire. Large populations of Manx shearwaters are based in West Wales and, after rescue by the RSPCA, a Wildlife Casualty Volunteer ensured their safe arrival at a specialist centre for rehabilitation.

These volunteers will help reduce the amount of time my officers need to spend driving long distances transporting animals – which crucially will allow us to focus on more case work, complaints and other rescues. In particular, we are eager to find people able to help us in Llandudno, Abergele, Rhyl, Prestatyn. Barmouth, Pwllheli, Machynlleth, Llandrindod Wells, Holyhead and Bangor.

Anyone who may be able to offer two to three days of availability per week, and is interested in this opportunity can visit http://www.rspca.org.uk/wildlifecasualty for an application form; with a training session currently planned for Thursday 17 May at the Upper Colwyn Bay Community Centre. A further session may be arranged should interest demand.

RSPCA Cymru is only able to investigate many thousands of complaints annually because of the work of our volunteers. They – quite simply – make a huge contribution to the work we do to prevent cruelty, promote kindness and alleviate the suffering of all animals; whether they be pets, farm animals, wildlife, or otherwise. Whether it’s becoming a wildlife casualty volunteer, signing a petition or sharing our work on social media, it all helps animals in need, and we’re grateful to every single one of you showing care and compassion for our fellow living creatures.