Canning Town animal rescue centre struggling to cope
With dozens of unwanted cats being dropped off outside its doors each day, a Canning Town animal rescue centre has been left "barely able to function". But with former model and Vogue cover star Celia Hammond at its helm, the Celia Hammond Animal Trust in Barking Road is pushing ahead with its mission to educate the community.
The facility, which provides a temporary home for three times as many animals as it is able to foster out, also offers cut-price veterinary care for those unable to afford private fees.
This year has seen a massive influx of animals - so much so, the mewing of various cats and kittens can be heard coming from the staffroom, the cages and the various floors of the building.
"I have never, ever, known anything as bad as it is at the moment," said Celia, a vocal anti-fur campaigner and animal rights activist since her modelling days.
"We have always managed to cope and answer emergency calls but we are now out of control - we can't answer all our emergency calls. A lot of the calls we are taking are referrals from other charities not able to help the cats so our workload over the last 18 months has just become ridiculously overwhelming.
"We do our best, but we are not able to keep on top of it."
With a planned extension delayed because of building issues, things have worsened.
And while Celia said food to provide two meals each day for the cats was much needed - as are cash donations - it is wider education about neutering that she believes will stem the problem.
"When we first got here [in 1999] we were making inroads and the problem was getting better for several years," she said.
"But even now there are people in east London who don't believe in neutering - there are religious objections, moral objections and objections about whether it is a natural process.
"Now we offer neutering and people don't actually want to do it - we have got to get through to people and explain why it is so important.
"You are never going to cope with the problem unless you change people's minds."
Go to celiahammond.org or visit the centre to donate or to find out more.