DEVON’S largest hedgehog charity ELM, or Every Life Matters is in crisis after the organisation was notified that their rent will more than double within the next six months.

The charity, based in Seale Hayne, has 130 volunteers and rescues over 1,000 animals every year, the majority being hedgehogs.

ELM began in 2018, moving into their current residence three years ago.

Going from caring for animals in the house to rescuing and rehabilitating thousands of animals is no mean feat, but CEO Rick Parker says he still has to turn away animals due to capacity issues.

‘If you’ve ever called the RSPCA, RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust or your local vet, there is a good chance you’ve been given our number,’ Rick explained.

‘ELM accepts around 1,200 wildlife casualties a year, with the majority of these being hedgehogs.

‘With needing more internal space and a total lack of external space, we have had to turn away around 800 other wildlife species per year; when you love animals as we do, this is devastating; a lot that we can’t take die, go to unsuitable places or are shipped out of the county.’

But now, his entire dream may be cut short, after ELM’s current landlord increased the rent by over double. With no suitable properties on the horizon, the charity is at an impasse.

Rick said: ‘After all these years of putting the wildlife first and saving as many animals as we can; plus, the struggle to keep the centre manned and funded; our self-named landlord, the Crazy Billionaire, has dealt us the final blow. On the 6th March 2023, he increased our rent 114%.’

After negotiations, ELM was offered six months, by which time they were to have: ‘either departed the space or agree to the new terms.’

Therefore, by September 7, ELM will be out of a home and, if nothing changes, closing down.

Rick said: ‘I don’t think I can properly convey our feelings on the thought of closure, I honestly feel I have failed, and the thought of around 2000 animals with nowhere to go, not to mention the distraught finders/rescuers, it’s crushing. On top of the animals we are going to let down, we now have two employees.’

Rick also explained that if the centre closes, it would be extremely difficult to start another from scratch: ‘Hedgehogs are very complex animals to look after and it takes a lot of medication to look after them. So people try at home and fail, but there’s no one that’s going to cover the number of rescue hedgehogs that we do.

Creating the infrastructure and the network of volunteers again would be very difficult.

‘We need you to spread the word far and wide, to keep our dream alive, and to help all wildlife in need. We need 10 acres plus of land, potentially near the A38 between Chudleigh and Ugborough if possible.

‘We have scraped together a personal amount of money, plus a generous loan; we are not wealthy people, but we want to try and make ELM work.’