Our world is your world. Careers in land-based industries.

Laura Dixon

"One of the best things about this job is knowing that I am making a real difference to the lives of animals."
Laura Dixon Laura

You could be an... RSPCA branch manager

Ever fancied working for an animal charity? Meet Laura Dixon, who found her dream job ... before she’d even finished her exams!

Few of us will stay in the same job for a lifetime: we get promotions, discover new opportunities, take career breaks for family or travel, or maybe set up our own business. As we go we learn new skills, talents and interests and sometimes these lead us in new directions. This was the case for Laura Dixon, who completed her FdSc Animal Management and Welfare in 2013.

The 32-year-old enjoyed a successful career as a Retail Manager, running bars and restaurants, but found that the anti-social hours didn’t suit her lifestyle when she started a family. Having always loved animals she decided this was the right time to rethink her future. “I regretted not going to university earlier, so Harper Adams proved a great opportunity for me to fulfil that ambition. The university has been brilliant and very supportive when family life has had to take priority.” Returning to higher education as a mature student wasn’t an easy decision to make but it has paid off, as before she’d finished her final exams Laura was offered the role of manager of the RSPCA Stafford, Wolverhampton and District Branch (Charity no. 226711).

“One of the best things about this job is knowing that I am making a real difference to the lives of animals. I’ll be home-based, managing and developing the branch, recruiting and organising the volunteers, rehoming animals and fundraising.”

Laura’s placement year played an important part in helping her secure her dream job – she was encouraged to apply for the role by colleagues she met while on placement at the RSPCA’s Gonsal Farm Animal Centre. Ironically, she was not too keen on the idea of placement when she first began her course. “It is largely down to placement that I have the job but as someone with years of work experience at first I wasn’t sure what the point of doing a placement was. Now I’m very glad I did it. It gave me a foot in the door to my chosen career.

“Initially I was planning to look for scientific research posts after graduating. But this experience showed me that my passion was definitely animal welfare. During the year I developed hands on experience, became much more confident with dealing with members of the public, and made lots of links within the industry.”

Dr Louise Buckley, Laura’s tutor, said her experience shows what students can achieve through hard work: “It is richly deserved as Laura has volunteered for the RSPCA all year and has been an avid advocate for the charity.”

What does an RSPCA branch manager do?

  • Recruit, train and retain suitable volunteers to conduct the day to day management of the Branch, including rehabilitation/fostering; rehoming; income generation and marketing/new media.
  • Discuss and agree with the Branch Support Specialist (BSS), animal welfare development targets which should then be monitored and achieved.
  • Supervise the system of acceptance and re-homing of animals in the care of the Branch in compliance with RSPCA procedures and guidelines.
  • Liaise with private boarding establishments and Branch fosterers to develop optimum rehabilitation and rehoming opportunities for Branch animals.
  • Ensure RSPCA animal welfare standards are upheld both by the Branch and by any associated fostering or private boarding facility.
  • Authorise financial assistance for vet treatments in accordance with Trustee guidelines, verify all veterinary invoices and ensure continuity of relevant vaccines, microchips etc in accordance with Society rules.
  • Ensure neutering, microchipping and welfare support services perform within budget and are carried out to RSPCA welfare standards.
  • Create a network of links between the Branch and neighbouring branches and larger animal centres in the Region to expand rehoming options and partnership working.
  • Build and maintain successful working relations and ensure professional communication with the Society, charities and other external agencies.
  • Lead the Friends Group to maximise income generation opportunities including donor recruitment, develop corporate sponsorship and grant opportunities and actively market the Branch.
  • Raise the profile of the Branch and ensure maximum press coverage.
  • Supervise website and social media content.
  • Draft budgets and Branch strategic plans in conjunction with the BSS for the Trustees and provide accurate and clear monthly management financial reports.
  • Ensure annual accounts are delivered on time to the Charities Commission.
  • Develop a group of senior volunteers and train them accordingly in order to form a sustainable management committee for the Branch. Thereafter to provide strategic planning support and advice to this group.

More profiles...