Kevin (an Animal Aid office volunteer)
From an early age, I had always been against cruelty to animals. The turning point came in 1982 when The Animals Film was shown on Channel 4. The documentary depicted animal abuse in graphic detail, and included contributions from people who campaigned against it. This was it for me. I immediately became vegetarian and, through a national anti-vivisection organisation, made contact with a local animal rights group.
I became heavily involved in campaigning on both a local (high street leafleting, stalls, etc.) and a national level (by attending demonstrations). I shall never forget my first national demo at BIBRA laboratories in Carshalton on World Day for Laboratory Animals in 1983. Around 8,000 people attended and I remember thinking that rights for animals would be achieved in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, whilst we are still winning, it may take longer than I first thought.
I switched to a vegan diet a few months later and continued campaigning. But after a number of years I ‘burnt out’ and, despite remaining vegan, did not participate in animal rights activities and lost contact with a number of good friends. Thankfully, a few years later, I once again started to attend demonstrations and renewed old acquaintances.
My life changed again five-and-a-half years ago, when I saw an article about an animal rescue centre near to where I lived. I had never worked directly with animals (having always been involved in the protest side) and this looked like a good opportunity to help in a practical way. I have volunteered ever since and am now a trustee.
In September 2005, I also decided that I would like to volunteer for a national animal rights group and approached the Animal Aid stall at London’s Vegan Festival. Four weeks later, I turned up at The Old Chapel to offer my services and have since spent one or two days a week in the Merchandise Department, processing catalogue orders, sending out leaflets and so on. This has given me another opportunity to meet like-minded people, all of whom have been exceptionally friendly and caring.