Monday, 22 April 2019

No I'm Not Taking Any Cats Home! A Visit to the Cats Protection Tyneside Adoption Centre With Aimee Wilson

(But I did take home three Teddy Bears, a heap of books, and some beard conditioner.)

On Easter Monday my friend and fellow blogger Aimee Wilson and I went along to the Easter Fayre & Pawsome Afternoon Tea at the Cats Protection Tyneside Adoption Centre in Gateshead.

You can read Aimee’s post about the day here.

Aimee had invited me along as the latest in our line of bloggers’ days out. We’ve previously visited Newcastle’s Life Science Centre, Tynemouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium, and had a day out in Blyth. I always learn a few things or come away with some new ideas. I’m happy to report our latest day out was no exception.

Customer Engagement Advisor Chris Jackson took us on a guided tour. I was very impressed at the facilities and Chris’ knowledge and obvious passion for his job. The Tyneside Adoption Centre is the first purpose-built Cats Protection rehoming facility in the North East. According to their website they have 42 outdoor heated pens, and “work tirelessly to provide support in the local area, with the aim of re-homing unwanted, abandoned or stray cats to suitable homes.” They hope to help a minimum of five hundred cats a year “with the help of our dedicated staff, volunteers and supporter network.”

The staff and volunteers were well represented at the event, running the stalls and taking interested folk to see the cats. The food and tombola were especially popular. We kept going back to the tombola and left with a fine haul. A bit of swapping added to the fun. I gave Aimee a rather nice stag’s head candle holder I won, and Aimee gave me the beard conditioning lotion she ended up with! Two very nice ladies gifted me the teddy bears they won after hearing how my wife Pam collects cuddly toys. (Pam says thank you!) I’m keeping the copy of Stephen Fry’s autobiography The Fry Chronicles for myself.

Aimee and I got to visit a couple of the cats, which were gorgeous. As tempting as it was, and despite significant “encouragement” (thanks, Aimee!) I managed not to bring any of them home.

I was surprised and delighted to have two excellent conversations about mental health with people I’d never met before. I don’t know why I was surprised. Mental health features in almost all our lives one way or another, and if you initiate a conversation it’s not at all unusual to find someone with a story to share. At the Easter Fayre I found two.

Chris had made a table available for me and Aimee to display our contact cards. (I’d brought plenty of cards along with me, a lesson I’d learned on our first bloggers’ day out!) We were sitting at the table and it was natural to point out to folk that yes they were our cards and to share a little of our respective stories. The conversations flowed from there.

Afterwards, Aimee and I talked about our blogs and our books (High Tide, Low Tide and No One Is Too Far Away in my case; Aimee’s book is called When All Is Said & Typed) and how their value is not measured in pageviews or book sales, but the impact our stories have on individual people’s lives, and the impact other people’s stories have on us. I am grateful for the reminder, and to the two people who shared with me today.

I said I always learn something when I am out with Aimee. What did I learn this time? I learned that cats don’t necessarily want their tummies rubbed when they roll around on their backs. I learned that if you keep trying on a tombola you’ll win something eventually. I learned that Aimee is a really good navigator (I managed to get us lost a couple of times on the way to the event). Oh, and I learned that being cheeky can be an asset!

All in all I had a fabulous time and the event raised over £475 to support the centre’s work.

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity. Their vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs. You can contact the Tyneside Adoption Centre on their website, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Aimee Wilson is a 28-year-old mental health blogger who has used her personal experiences to develop a popular online profile. Her blog I’m NOT Disordered has over half a million readers. Aimee’s first book, When All Is Said & Typed, is available at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and in other regions.

 

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