Bird Aid’s home, Hydeaway, is under threat as £170,000 needs to be raised in order to stay at the site where they have been since 2013.
Bird Aid is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for gulls which aims to protect the welfare of the birds while promoting a positive image of the animals that they care for.
The centre first moved to Hydeaway in order to provide a home for disabled gulls, as well as baby and adult gulls, who can live for up to 30 years.
Currently, the centre takes in more than 500 gulls a year and one of the founders, Julia Gould, fears that some of the birds may have to be put down if they leave Hydeaway.
Ms Gould said, “You can’t just find facilities for gulls. I am getting phone calls from all over the country from people who are saying that they have got a disabled gull, can I take it?
“And people will travel four or five hours to get here. I don’t think people realise in the Eastbourne area how unusual it is to have the facilities we have got. We go out and do rescues and we have got a site that takes all the gulls that need rescuing.”
Unfortunately, if Bird Aid do need to move from their current site it is not as easy as just moving the facilities to a new location.
Ms Gould said, “There is no way we can ever recreate what we have got here. We have been here since 2013, so seven, eight years, and the facilities we have built here we could never afford to recreate anywhere else.”
Despite her dedication to saving to gulls, Ms Gould is aware that some people are not fond of the birds.
Ms Gould said, “I think what this last year has hopefully taught people is that wildlife needs to be respected and if you interfere with wildlife it starts to affect everybody.
“Whether you like gulls or don’t like gulls they are part of the ecosystem and once they have gone, they are gone. There is no getting them back. The numbers have decreased dramatically, they are on the red list and when one animal goes it affects the other animals. We need to start protecting wildlife.
“Eastbourne is a seaside town. When visitors come they expect the seagulls. They like seagulls. It would be a disaster if we were a seaside town with no gulls, sitting on the beach with nothing to listen to, nothing to look at.”
Ms Gould, who helped set up Bird Aid in 2011, also worries that if they are to close nobody else will do the work that they do.
Ms Gould said, “Most places do not have the facilities for gulls because they take up too much space and they cost a lot of money to look after. So the reason we stepped this up is because other people aren’t doing gulls. So it isn’t going to be a case of if we close someone else will be doing them.
“It is a case of if we close, nobody else will be doing them. They might take the odd one but they aren’t going to do them in the numbers that we do them because you can’t just plonk babies on a piece of grass.”
Along with their work with gulls, Bird Aid was also set up to provide an environment where people with leaning difficulties can volunteer, learn and have fun as the organisation plans events such as discos.
The centre has currently raised more than £2,000 and donations can be made to Bird Aid here