Vanessa Waddon, Hope Rescue - Change Maker Nominee

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Our Change Maker award recognises people who are the driving force behind an organisation with great impact.

Hope Rescue is what it is today thanks to Vanessa's passion, commitment and ethos. She has been the driving force behind the charity and its incredible journey so far and is at the heart of everything we do.”

Paula Rowe, Trustee and Director of Digital, Marketing & Communications at Hope Rescue


Vanessa has been a dog lover her whole life and has always kept rescue dogs. After hearing a particularly affecting story of an abused and abandoned greyhound in her local area in 2005, Vanessa decided to channel this passion further and began volunteering with local charities.

Through this, she became acutely aware of just how many stray dogs there were in need of help and how many were being unnecessarily put down. In 2005, she founded Hope Rescue in honour of that first greyhound whose racing name was ‘Last Hope’.


Since founding the charity, Vanessa has continued to further its reach, both in the number of animals it helps and in its impact on the wider community. Originally operating primarily as a rescue coordinator, one of the biggest challenges the charity faced was finding enough kennel space to temporarily house dogs whilst waiting to re-home them.

Receiving the funding to be able to open its own dedicated rescue and rehabilitation centre in April 2017 was therefore an incredible achievement for Vanessa and the team at Hope Rescue. The centre takes in, rehabilitates, cares for, and hopes to re-home all dogs that come into its care to ensure they get the best possible chance of a new start in life, whatever their age or background.


Having its own centre has enabled the charity to accept and help more dogs. After opening its doors, Hope Rescue was able to increase the number of dogs helped by almost 100% (with 436 dogs helped in 2016-17 and 750 dogs helped so far in the 2017-2018 period).

Having this tangible base has also allowed Vanessa to develop other outreach activities within the community. The centre now offers temporary respite care, contributes pet food to local food banks, undertakes education on responsible pet ownership and care, and the charity also works with other local organisations to offer volunteer and work experience to the wider community. Through a European Funding programme, the centre has also been able to create 9 full-time and 1 part-time job providing employment opportunities in the local area.


Since opening the centre, Vanessa has taken on a new role as Transformation Manager. Working alongside the team of staff and volunteers in this role, she is looking forward to the continued growth and development of Hope Rescue.

Aims include improving the facilities at the rescue centre to offer the best services and welfare standards possible, and optimising opportunities for the centre to support the wider community. The Hope in the Community scheme is dear to Vanessa’s heart and one that she would like to concentrate on developing to continue expanding the centre’s impact and reach.

A Charity Bank loan enabled Hope Rescue to purchase the premises for its dedicated rescue centre and to attract further support and funding.

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