AN animal rescue charity is opening a new rehoming centre but needs the public to help complete a £500,000 overhaul of the property.

The RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire Branch is a separate entity to the national charity, and raises all its own money to support its £190,000-a-year operation.

Among the work done by volunteers is taking in stray dogs which might otherwise be put down, taking in pets whose owners have died, and increasingly taking in and re-homing pets whose owners have lost their jobs.

But in addition, the branch – which celebrated its centenary last year – is also trying to set up a rehoming centre for dogs, cats and small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. Geraldine Haynes, a branch trustee, said the group bought a five-acre smallholding off Brookend Lane, Kempsey, near Worcester, and eventually secured planning permission.

However, a substantial amount of building work and renovation is needed, with the branch now appealing for donations and offers of labour. Currently, the volunteers-run branch has had its work cut out, taking in dozens of unwanted animals and paying the vet bills with the money raised before re-homing them. Last year 52 dogs, 176 cats and 247 rabbits and other small animals were rehomed. Mrs Haynes said the planned centre was something the county “desperately” needed.

“It has been the long-term plan of ours, to create a branch animal centre for the area,” she said.

“Worcestershire is desperate for this. Being on one site will enable us to help more people, who are unable to keep their pets, for a variety of reasons.

“We provide a service, without charge, where people’s circumstances have changed.”

Another little known fact is that once the nationally-funded RSPCA Inspectors have investigated animal cruelty cases, it is up to the branch to deal with the aftermath of any homeless pets – all paid for by donations to the branch alone. Mrs Haynes said: “If companies or individuals would like to sponsor a kennel and have their name above the door, we will be eternally grateful.”

Anyone who wants to help can visit, following the ‘money giving’ link.

People can also write to RSPCA Worcester and Mid- Worcestershire Branch, 12 Sansome Place, Worcester WR1 1UA, or call Louise on 01905 20822 Mondays to Fridays, 9.30am to 1.30pm.