New CEO unveils fresh vision for pet charity Blue Cross and commits the organisation to reach those most vulnerable in society

  • Chris Burghes joined the charity in June 2020 and wants evolution, not revolution to ensure stability and future growth in line with society’s most pressing needs for pets and people.
  • Blue Cross knows pet owners are increasingly seeking advice and help in a new digital environment and the charity must meet these online needs. The new three-year strategy will immediately focus on digital growth and affordable vet care to help the most vulnerable in society who share their lives with pets.
  • Longer term goals for the charity include an expansion of their behavioural support and opening services in deprived communities with an aim to help a pet every eight minutes on a national scale.
  • Where challenges from COVID have affected the charity, and pet sector significantly, Blue Cross will seek to provide support in the looming welfare and financial crisis for both pets and their people.

National pet charity Blue Cross’s new CEO has launched a new three year strategy cementing an organisational commitment to ensure that where pets are helped by their services, the charity is also best placed to reach the people who share their lives.

With plans to open new rehoming centres in Northern Ireland and Scotland the vision is to invest in helping pets living with those in more vulnerable communities.

The charity has 11 rehoming and behaviour centres in the UK and four veterinary hospitals located in London and Grimsby to provide low cost vet care to those on means tested benefits. Blue Cross believes that sharing our lives with pets should not be an exclusive privilege for the wealthy and that veterinary care should be accessible for all pets and owners who require it. In the first year of the new strategy the charity will trial alternative approaches which will make this a reality.

Blue Cross has long led a pioneering animal behavioural approach and during COVID launched an emergency helpline for those struggling with behavioural challenges with the pets in their homes. The aim by 2023 is to significantly expand their virtual consultations.

The charity has not reduced it service capacity moving forward and will still provide all its extended programmes, such as the Pet Bereavement Support Service and Educational outreach and working with its 4,000 volunteers.

Blue Cross Chief Executive, Chris Burghes, said: “Blue Cross has been in operation for nearly 125 years helping pets in need. We don’t need to revolutionise our purpose as our core mission remains the same, but we will look to evolve how we do this to address the needs of today’s society. We will ensure our presence is there either physically or digitally for those in crisis, those who already share their lives with animals or those who wish to welcome a pet into their family.”

“Where there is a pet there is a person. In the majority of cases where we are helping one, we are intrinsically helping the other. This holistic approach is where I truly believe we will achieve significant long-lasting societal change for animals and their people with our charity work. Even in these uniquely challenging times, I can see real inspiration and exciting possibilities for the future and what we can deliver over the next three years.”

The strategy has been designed to achieve the following measures by the end of the three-year period:

  • A national physical and digital rehoming and support presence across all four countries of the UK.
  • A shift to use of digital platforms to reach more pets in need. At present 13% of the charity’s current rehoming work is through Homes Direct (where pets go directly from a previous to new owner without coming into a Blue Cross facility). The goal is to have 60% through Homes Direct and foster care by 2023. This approach will ensure the main rehoming centre facilities are used for the animals most in crisis.
  • The charity will refine focus on two new services to support income: affordable vet care and animal behaviour services
  • Blue Cross will strengthen their voice publicly and politically to achieve positive societal change for pets. This will not solely be focussed on animal welfare but also seek to embed a cultural shift in awareness on the multiple benefits of sharing our lives with pets.
  • Blue Cross will ensure inclusivity, diversity and equality are core values of the charity and embedded in all services they deliver in being able to reach, communicate and support all of those in need.

A detailed strategy document is available on request.

Chris Burghes holding a cat
CEO Chris Burghes


Notes to Editor:

The five underpinning priorities of the Blue Cross strategy:

Increase accessible, integrated, and differentiated services, across the UK, for customers and communities, a local presence with a national reach.

Enable financially sustainable growth and scale, and balance the budget in 2022 and beyond, to enable us to invest in the charity's core services.

Champion a vision for a society where understanding of the value of pets is second nature. The charity will lead in advocating the highest pet welfare standards and supporting those who live with them.

Develop processes that allow technological agility to respond to the changing social environment and needs of those who share their lives with animals and to support current and future pet owners and those in times of crisis.

Further Embed a culture of One Blue Cross where all individuals can have accountable impact and deliver results for pets and their people in an environment where inclusivity, diversity and inclusion is paramount.

Blue Cross is a national charity that has been helping sick, injured, abandoned and homeless pets for over 120 years. We help thousands of pets in need every month by providing veterinary care, expert behaviour help and find them loving homes. We also offer education for current and future pet owners plus pet bereavement support for those who have lost their pet companion. Pets help us in so many ways and they depend entirely on us, with your support we can give back to more pets in need. Pets change lives. We change theirs.

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Media contact

Blue Cross media team: 0300 777 1950 / [email protected]

— Page last updated 18/03/2021