A few weeks ago we popped down to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood (Essex) to take a look at the amazing work they do and the animals they’ve given a second chance to. Despite it being fairly local to us, it’s not somewhere I had ever visited before and now I’ve been there I can’t help but wonder, what took us so long??
Although I had never visited Hopefield before, I was aware of them and knew what good work they do there as my good friend and fellow blogger, Laura, used to volunteer there every weekend before she fell pregnant. (Go and read her blog, she’s ace). The sanctuary is – as are most places of this type – entirely funded by donations and so awareness of their work and gaining visitors is crucial to them continuing to do what they do.
Having never been there before I expected it to be fairly small but, honestly, we were really surprised by how big it is, how well laid out and cared for it is, and how many animals they have there. All of which are rescued and/or rehomed. That’s something that always hits me right in the feels; all those animals who have either had a bad start to life or whose previous owners were unable to keep them for whatever reason. It’s so desperately sad.
The great thing about Hopefield is how accessible all the animals are. Although you’re not encouraged to get touchy-feely with all of them, there are some who are really friendly and are happy to have a bit of fussing from visitors – their big white horse, Hope, was the first one we came into contact with and she was so gentle and appreciative of us stroking her, I didn’t want to walk away and could quite easily have spent a lot more time with her!
One of the most heartbreaking parts of the day was when we walked over to the field that holds all the horses. Mounted on a fence on the pathway down to them was a sign which explained that some of the horses were so badly treated before they were rescued that when they saw a human they would throw themselves on the floor out of sheer fright. I can’t get my head around the fact that anyone could hurt and scare an animal so much. How do these people live with themselves?!
As well as the standard horses, pigs, rabbits and cows that you expect to see in places like this, there were a few animals there that surprised me – for instance, Mungo the genet (an animal I had never heard of before) or the half a dozen raccoons that have found themselves at the sanctuary having been bought as pets before their previous owners realised they aren’t suitable to be kept indoors as human companions. The raccoons didn’t all come from the same previous home either – I didn’t realise that the purchase and rehoming of raccoons was so common to be honest!
From the creepy crawly little critters to the numerous horses out to pasture in the fields, every single animal we saw was well cared for and in an enclosure that was entirely suitable to its needs. They looked happy and healthy and had companionship, which is really important for animals such as their ferrets or cows as they like to be in social groups.
Although this was the first time we have visited Hopefield we both said that we would definitely like to go back and take our friends’ children or our nephew when he is a little older, as it gives the opportunity to get up close to these animals and learn respect for them. Also, by visiting the sanctuary you are helping to fund the work they do which is so, so important and allows these animals to live their lives in a safe environment, with the proper care they need.
If you live in Essex or nearby, I 100% recommend you pop down to Hopefield and see just how great a job they are doing. Entry is just a few pounds and you can spend as long as you like there. There’s more information on their website, or you can follow their social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) where they share updates about their animals and the great work the team there are doing. You can also adopt one of their animals, a great way to support them, and a brilliant gift idea for any animal lovers you know!
Thank you Hopefield for inviting us down to visit, we will definitely be back!
* In Association With Brand *