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Image: RSPCA
Image: RSPCA

Why the RSPCA's new brand is what animals need

Emma Slawinski
April 11, 2024

The RSPCA turns 200 this year - but it’s not the only landmark birthday in 2024 at our fabulous charity.

Because our public affairs team - responsible for advising and persuading governments, politicians and other decision makers about animal welfare’s importance - marks 100 years in business this year.

That's not to say we weren't lobbying for change before then, of course.

The RSPCA’s very formation in 1824 owes a debt of gratitude to campaigners like Richard Martin MP and William Wilberforce MP, who helped establish the charity and push for the very first animal welfare laws which our officers helped enforce.

But 100 years ago, our first public affairs staffer - Speedwell Massingham - joined the RSPCA. That was some 28 years before even our first female patrol officers came on board. Speedwell - a remarkable woman; was a real trailblazer for animal welfare, the founder of the Council Against Bullfighting; and would go on to become an early pioneer for women in wider public life - standing as a parliamentary candidate in Petersfield in 1929, and Maidstone in 1931.

I am certain Speedwell would be proud of what her early work went on to achieve and inspire for animals and proud of the work that our fantastic Public Affairs team continues to do. And while we still have a lot of work to do, in so many respects, England and Wales have changed seismically for animals over the last century.

While I am immensely proud of the role the RSPCA has played in campaigning and advocating for these new laws, I’m under no illusions that progress was and is possible only with the support and actions of the public, who have encouraged countless lawmakers to stand up for animals.

Time and time again, the public have risen to the occasion to improve animals’ lives. They joined us to speak up for wildlife in securing the Fur Farming Prohibition Act in 2001 . They helped protect the lives of so many animals by helping us secure an Animal Welfare Act in 2006, and in 2022, after a campaign that caught the imagination of the whole nation, they helped us ensure sentience - a recognition of an animal’s ability to feel emotions and pain - was formally recognised in UK law.

I am immensely proud of the role the RSPCA has played Quote

More could follow this year. A ban on the live exports of animals from Great Britain for further fattening and slaughter abroad is on the cusp of completing its journey through Parliament - again thanks to many, many years of public pressure.

Politicians often comment that they receive more communications from constituents on animal welfare than any other issue. Not all of these are generated by the RSPCA by any means, and I never fail to be staggered by the amazing efforts so many people go to in campaigning for a better life for animals - from petitions, to letter-writing and speaking up for animals with us and other national and local animal welfare charities.

Which is why it is not just animals at the heart of the RSPCA but people too, and it’s why our new brand, launching today (11 April), is for every kind. We are for every kind of animal, not just through our vital rescue work, but the millions more we help through our education, prevention and advocacy work. And we are for every kind of person, whoever they are and however they want to support us to help animals. Because we know people from all walks of life have helped us achieve these amazing changes for animals.

This rebrand isn't just about a nice new logo (although it is very smart!). We know that, while the lot of many animals has improved so much over the years, animal welfare now faces some of the biggest challenges in our 200-year history - from climate change to the scale of intensive farming, the cost of living crisis and the effects of the pandemic.

We can’t face these challenges alone. We need as many people as possible to join us to build a better world for every animal. Our new brand is about inspiring all people to rethink their relationship with all animals. We need everyone to help us meet these challenges by helping us carry out one million acts of kindness for animals for our 200th year.

From volunteering, to fundraising, or making small lifestyle changes - like doing a litter pick, learning how to help injured wildlife, buying higher welfare food or making communities more wildlife friendly, and even joining us to campaign for change - there are so many ways people can be involved. And in this General Election year, that includes our political parties - and committing to animal welfare plans.

Everyone has a role to play to improve animals' lives - because a world that's better for animals is better for us all. For the RSPCA, here in England and Wales, that includes our Members of Parliament, our Senedd Members, Peers, Mayors, Police & Crime Commissioners, and other elected representatives. And it includes our local councils - who have so much power to change animals' lives for the better, so we’ll be recognising some of the work of some Councillors with a new PawPrints award - the Massingham Advocacy Award - later this year. But it also, crucially, includes the public - and if the way the public have embraced supporting our campaigns over the last century is anything to go by, I am confident they will rise to this challenge, and help create a better and kinder world for every animal.


Emma Slawinski is Director of Policy, Prevention and Campaigns at the RSPCA.

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