Awareness Days - Guidelines, hints and tips
The best way to get a message across to somebody is simple, just talk to them!
If you’ve seen our Get Involved page, you’ll know that more and more of our members are volunteering to help raise awareness about the work of the RWAF to improve the lives of pet rabbits in the UK.
This page gives a bit more detail of what an awareness day is, some ideas on preparation and some guidelines to ensure that we all represent the organisation consistently.
An Awareness Day doesn’t have to be a whole day; it could be a morning, evening, afternoon or just an hour. The name is just an easy way to describe any kind of session where a member of the RWAF provides advice on what pet rabbits need to lead full and enriched lives.
The RWAF is an educational organisation, trying to raise the standard of living of the domestic rabbit through education.
We provide educational information on our website and in leaflets but there is no guarantee that the information will be read. With awareness days we know that we are delivering our message directly to the audience it needs to get to. Okay, owners may ignore the advice, but at least we know they’ve heard it, and the chances are it will result in some kind of improvement in the life of their rabbit. We often get emails and calls from people telling us they have seen one of our members holding an awareness day, and want to let us know that they have booked their rabbit in to be neutered and will soon be looking to adopt a companion for their bunny from a rescue centre. Or that they have taken the advice to build a bigger enclosure for their rabbits, who now have a whale of a time exploring their lovely extra space. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that you have directly improved the life of a rabbit.
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What Kind of Awareness Days Take Place?
Our active members hold Awareness Days in various places:
First, you need to find a place to hold your Awareness Day. It’s worth thinking about what’s involved before making your choice. For example, holding a stand at a pet shop or vet is more about casual interaction with people coming to the stand, whereas doing a talk at a school or WI would mean you would have to be a confident public speaker. Once you’ve decided whether you’ll be doing a presentation or manning an advice stand you’ll have more idea of where you’ll be able to hold it. Speak to your vet, your school or wherever it may be and see if they are interested in setting something up. If they would like more information about the charity then please direct them to our website, or contact us if you want us to send them any information. If you are doing a presentation then it will probably need a theme so it’s a good idea to think of one before approaching places like schools. For example, you may know that your child’s class is doing a project about animals, then your talk could be about the differences between wild and domestic rabbits. This would allow you to make the point that despite their differences, domestic rabbits have the same urges to run and explore that their wild cousins have, so it’s vital to have a large enclosure with lots of stimulation.
Once you have agreed a location, you'll need some accessories. We will provide leaflets, posters and a collecting tin if you think you need one. We can also help you plan your presentation if you are doing one. We are keen to get our message out to as many people as possible so please don't be afraid to ask for anything.
One thing to remember is that it can be a lot more fun if you work as a team, so if you have any friends who love rabbits too then why not get them involved too? We are always keen to put like-minded people in touch with each other so we’d be happy to let people know if you are looking for somebody in your area who might like to help rabbits too.
You are bound to be asked questions, that’s what you’re there for! The golden rules here are common sense makes the most sense, and if you don’t know then don’t be afraid to say so. You’re not expected to be an expert in rabbit health and medicine. If you are passionate enough to be doing an Awareness Day then the chances are that you will know more than the basics, but please be careful to only give advice that you are sure of. Never take a chance, always recommend talking to a vet on anything more than about checking teeth and bottoms, nail clipping etc.
You will quickly realise that through your own experience of giving your pets the best life you can give them, that you are able to give strong, confident advice. You will also be armed with leaflets that you can give out and refer to. If you don’t know an answer to a question then nobody will mind if you say so. You can refer that person to the helpline, give them a leaflet or take their details and pass on their question to the RWAF committee.
You will find that the majority of questions will be about aggressive rabbits, and about pairing rabbits together. Print out our Awareness Days Advice Sheet to take with you, which provides some useful tips on these issues. Also, check out our leaflets section for facts sheets to print out and take along.
If people are looking for general advice then just try and get over to them the importance of Space, Exercise, Companionship and Stimulation. The more they put into their pet, the more they’ll get from the experience. It’s your chance to make people see the delight of a happy rabbit investigating his or her big enclosure and snuggling up with a lovely partner, or even better, flopping down contentedly on the rug in the lounge!
If people want to know about the RWAF then hopefully you will be able to let them know that we are a small but passionate charity who are trying - through education of owners and the general public - to improve the lives of so many neglected domestic rabbits who lead solitary, miserable lives.
We are hugely grateful to anybody who helps us by taking the time and trouble to do an Awareness Day. However, we have to stress that it is vitally important that the RWAF is represented properly. Please always use your common sense and never try to offer advice that you are not qualified to give. It would be easy to damage the reputation of the organisation, which is of course, vital. Please do not take rabbits to the event, in most cases it is too stressful for the animal, and it can also perpetuate the view that rabbits are portable, even disposable pets.
In the case of Pets at Home, the sessions need to be arranged through their head office, so please contact us directly through the helpline, or email our volunteer coordinator, with the location of your local store and some idea of what days you are available so one can be booked. If you would like further advice on how to approach any venues then please contact us.
Some members disagree with us having an arrangement with Pets at Home, holding the view that the pet trade is a big part of the problem that rabbits face. The reason we maintain the arrangement is purely and simply to do what we can for rabbits, and if we are able to provide advice that will improve the life of a rabbit then we will go wherever we need to. Why not view our policy statement on pet shops
Thanks and Good Luck!
We hope that gives you a few ideas, but always remember that you’re not alone, please call the helpline or email our volunteer coordinator if you want to chat about anything. We’re grateful that you’re helping, so we want to help you!
Many members and Outreach Officers find that they enjoy Awareness Days more if they do them with a like minded friend, or as a group. We are always keen to put members in touch with other members in their area so please contact us if you want some help with this.
For more guidance please see our fund raising page.
A hutch is not enough...