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Here are some frequently asked questions when introducing a cat to a new home.

First, call your nearest branch or send them an email. Our staff and volunteers are very busy so if phoning you may have to leave a message and your contact details.

A member of the Rehoming Team for the Branch you have contacted will phone you back to discuss your enquiry and offer of a home, if from this discussion it is likely that we have cats that will suit you and you will be interested in then a home visit at your home will be arranged. We carry out home visits to provide any advice you require about caring for and settling in new cats or kittens and to discuss further what 'sort' of cats or kittens you would be interested in offering a home to and would be suitable for you, your home and lifestyle. We also want to feel reassured that our cats are going to good, permanent new homes where they will be well cared for.

We can carry out home visits in the day, evenings or at weekends. The home visitor will arrange an appointment with you that is convenient for you both, this is usually possible within a few days if you are immediately ready to adopt cats.

Once you have had a successful home visit we can arrange for you to meet cats and kittens, the rescue centres are very flexible with timing and are available BY APPOINTMENT, days, evenings and weekends. To view cats and kittens in foster homes a convenient time will need to arranged between yourselves and the foster home.


Our cats and kittens are rescued, and many have been struggling to survive as strays on the streets or have been neglected or mistreated by their previous owners. We want to feel reassured that they are going to new lives where they will be treated with kindness, fed well and receive appropriate veterinary care as required.

We like to provide any advice you need about settling in new cats e.g. feeding, health care, if they are to go outside, and how long to keep them in initially.

We also like to discuss with you what 'sort' of cats or kittens will suit your home and lifestyle, e.g. a home with children will need friendly 'normal' temperament cats or kittens. An adult only home with previous experience of cats would be able to consider choosing nervous cats or kittens.

If cats are to go outside we do look for hazards such as proximity or access on to busy roads.

If your home visit is successful, then when you come to choose cats or kittens at one of our rescue centres or foster homes we can introduce you to a choice of cats that are suitable for you.

A home visit usually lasts between half an hour and an hour at your home, and is an informal friendly discussion. We are not there to inspect your home – in fact a very clean and tidy home can be a worry to us as animals can have accidents and cause damage! We do like to meet everyone who usually lives in your home as we like to feel reassured that everyone is in agreement with and happy to introduce a new feline or canine family member. Since Covid many of our home 'visits' are carried out virtually - e.g a video call on WhatsApp.

Our charity relies solely on donations to enable us to continue our vital rescue and homing work as well as our low-cost veterinary clinics. 

Prior to homing, each cat has been neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, wormed and flea treated (kittens, unless old enough, may have only had one vaccination and may not yet be neutered - but as part of our adoption agreement will need to be neutered by a specified date). We therefore have a suggested minimum donation amount of £80 per cat adopted from us.

The cats and kittens that we rescue arrive in all sorts of conditions; a few have been pets that have been well cared for, but many are neglected or were strays with the usual flea and worm burdens, some have injuries or are unwell upon arrival.

Our cats and kittens are health checked on arrival and are routinely treated for fleas and worms and receive a first vaccination against cat flu and enteritis.

All our cats are neutered by the age of 16 weeks prior to rehoming, but most of our kittens are neutered younger than this – most are neutered at 9-10 weeks. A condition of rehoming unneutered kittens is that you agree to neuter and microchip them as soon as they are old enough or fit enough to neuter, you will be informed of the date that they need to be neutered by at the time of adoption.

All cats and neutered kittens are ID microchipped. We will register you as the cat's new owner. Our cats are dual registered with ourselves as an additional owner, this acts as a safety net for our cats that should they be found and you cannot be contacted for whatever reason then CHAT will be contacted instead.

Cats and kittens from nine weeks old are vaccinated against cat flu and enteritis. Two vaccinations are required 3-4 weeks apart – if your new cat still requires the second part of the course of vaccination then we will advise you when it is due and when the annual booster will be due.

We recommend that all cats that will eventually be going outdoors should receive a course of vaccination against viral leukaemia (FELV).

New owners are welcome to use our London veterinary clinics to complete their cat's vaccination course and for neutering and microchipping of kittens when they become old enough.

Longer-term health care arrangements are going to vary according to your financial circumstances. For the majority of people we recommend taking out pet health insurance and registering with a local private veterinary surgeon. Our low-cost Veterinary services are available for owners on low income.

If your cat becomes unwell shortly after adoption, please contact the Branch you adopted your pet from. We do our best to ensure that animals leave us fit and well or on treatment as agreed with their new owners. We will treat any health problems detected within a few weeks of adoption free of charge.

Our cats and kittens are a mixture of unwanted pets and strays.

Too many people are continuing to allow their pets to breed bringing unwanted surplus litters into the world, and these end up as strays on the streets or handed in to rescue centres all over the UK. There are quite simply too many cats and kittens and not enough good homes to go round.

We are daily inundated to with requests to take in unplanned and unwanted litters of pet kittens and their mothers. We are asked to take many pet cats after elderly owners have died. Pets lose their homes when owners move to accommodation that doesn't allow pets or are evicted for being unable to pay the rent. Cats can become unwanted when a new baby is born or a family member develops an allergy to the cat. Some requests are combined with threats to harm the animals unless we can take them in immediately. We respond to discoveries of pets dumped in boxes, bins and baskets most weeks.

Our rescue workers are active in the local community responding to calls to help assist stray and feral cats.

Many of the cats we rescue are strays – cats that have once been pets and become lost or been deliberately abandoned. We also rescue their offspring – litters and litters of kittens are born to stray female cats every kitten season, often in dangerous situations, in abandoned cars, skips, in bushes in a park, in factories and disused buildings awaiting demolition, as well as in back gardens.

We work with feral cat colonies, neutering and returning colonies that are in safe locations and well-fed, bringing into our care those that are threatened by humans, suffering due to lack of regular food or were living in an unsuitable place, such as a site due for demolition and redevelopment. We rehome feral cats to farms, stables, smallholdings and country gardens where they will have shelter and regular quality food in return for acting as a rodent patrol.

Some cats we rescue are friendly and healthy cats and kittens, others are sick or injured and require nursing back to health prior to rehoming. Others are shy or traumatised and it takes time and patience to gain their trust before they are ready for rehoming.

Kittens just love being together; anyone who has watched two kittens play together can see how much they enjoy chasing and playing with each other and then collapsing in a heap together to sleep.

Growing up, they continue to provide vital company for each other – essential if everyone is out of the house for any length of time during the day. All a single kitten in a new home wants is its mum and litter mates.

It is good for kittens to grow up with another member of their own species, as they learn how to be normal cats through playing together – for the same reasons people take puppies to the park or dog classes to socialise with other puppies, and human children are taken to playgroups to mix with other children.

The comfort a pair of kittens gain from each other helps minimise the stress of being rehomed. Many rescued kittens are initially shy and to face a new home on their own could be very frightening. If you already have an adult cat then it is generally easier to introduce a pair of kittens rather than a single kitten – a resident cat will initially be hostile to a new arrival whether kitten or adult, a pair of kittens will stick together, and existing cats can either play with them or leave them as they wish.

Throughout their lives a pair of cats provide companionship for each other. Cats can live 18-20 years and during this time your life is likely to change – a pair of cats who have each other will cope better with events such as home moves, changing working patterns – in particular working longer hours, new cats in the neighbourhood, the arrival of a new baby etc.

Cats are very good mothers, they have very strong maternal bonds with their kittens. If their kittens are taken from them they will cry and search for days. Mother cats have even been known to go into burning buildings to rescue their young.

Frequently, young unwanted mother cats are handed into our Branches for rehoming after their owners have sold the kittens but have been unable to sell or give away the mother cat. They are full of milk and crying for their kittens, and if there are any kittens in the same room as them they become more distressed. Where possible, we give these mothers a kitten to care for and find a new home together, it pulls the heart strings to see them grab the kitten, clean them and suckle them.

Left to their own devices, cats live in extended family groups and a mother cat would rear her kittens not until 8 weeks but until she gave birth to another litter. When we neuter the mother cats they remain very close to kittens from their last litter, many continue to suckle them even for as long as 4-5 months. A kitten who is rehomed with its mum gains all the benefits of extended feeding, care and learning from its mum.

Adopting a mum and kitten is also a great idea if you work full time, as mum cat will take care of the kitten – and the only option better than a mum and a kitten – a mum and two kittens!- even more fun but with the watchful guidance of their mum!

In an ideal world cats would have homes with access to interesting gardens or acres of countryside far away from busy roads. However, the reality is that rescue centres are full of cats in need of homes and for some an indoor-only home would be most welcome, for others an indoor-only home is a necessity.

There are cats with disabilities such as deafness, poor sight or blind, mobility problems, on medication e.g. insulin dependent diabetic, for whom an indoor-only home is essential for their safety.

Elderly cats, even if they have previously been used to a home with a garden, are usually quite content with a comfy sofa to snooze on 20 hours a day.

Celia Hammond Animal Trust does rehome pairs of kittens and young adult cats to indoor-only homes provided they have not previously been used to going outdoors. The idea is that they do not miss what they haven't previously experienced. However it is important to bear in mind that a pair of youngsters will need a spacious indoor home, they will run around, be noisy at night and require lots of time spent with them and plenty of interesting toys.

If everyone in your home is out at work full time it is essential to adopt a pair of cats – one on its own will be bored, lonely and frustrated, spending its life waiting for you to come home. Two cats are company for each other and a pair do not require twice as much space as one, in fact they will be easier to care for as they will be much more content.

It is important that cats are not given access to open windows and balconies as cats easily fall off when distracted, for instance by moths or pigeons. Windows and balconies can usually be made safe with mesh screens and window safety locks – we can advise about this based on the design of the windows or balcony in your home.

Yes. We believe that it is beneficial for children to grow up with pets whom they learn to treat with kindness and respect. It is up to parents to ensure that their children do treat pets kindly. Babies and toddlers must be supervised at all times when near cats; it is not fair on your cats if they are handled roughly, and any cat that has its tail pulled or is manhandled by a toddler or young child can bite or scratch.

If you are worried about being able to keep a watchful eye on your young children's interactions with a cat then it would be advisable to wait until they are a little older (5 years or more) so that you can discuss and explain to them how to treat a cat well.

We do frequently receive offers of homes from families whose elderly cat has recently died and are keen for another quickly, as the children in such a home are used to cats. Introducing friendly new cats should be straightforward, even with young children.

There should be areas within a home where cats can get away from young children. Stair gates are a useful aid in achieving this, as well as a method of keeping the location of a cat litter tray separate from very young children. Even a shelf for a cat to sit on out of reach allows the cat its own safe space within your home. A cat flap also provides a cat with the freedom to come and go as he or she chooses.

Families living in a home without a garden where the cat will be totally kept indoors only should seriously consider waiting until children are older, as unless the flat is particularly spacious there are usually limited places where a cat can find peace and quiet.

Being rescued, many of our cats are not suitable for homes with young children – many are too shy, and some have even had previous bad experiences with children in homes where they were mistreated. However we do also rescue normal, friendly cats and kittens that would enjoy all the extra love and attention that children will give them.

Cats are relatively independent animals, which is what makes them such popular pets for working people (as opposed to dogs, who are much more demanding in terms of time and attention). Most pet cats do enjoy plenty of interaction with their human companions but can also occupy themselves when need be.

If you work full time it is always best to adopt a pair of cats who will keep each other company, an added benefit is that you won't be worrying that your cat is lonely and won't need to feel guilty if you don't rush straight home from work every evening to provide your feline friend with companionship. Single cats have been known to keep their owners up half the night wanting a fuss made of them and to play games at 4am to make up for the lack of attention during the day!

Single cats are also more likely to wander in the day and make friends with your neighbours and their cats and may even attempt to move in with them in order to gain more attention.

We occasionally have single cats that are particularly independent natured and, provided they have access in and out through a cat flap during the day, will be content regardless of your presence or not.

Kittens are babies and are initially very demanding in terms of time and attention. It is also very important that kittens receive lots of human attention so that they grow up friendly with people and happy with being handled. If you work full time ideally adult cats are best or a compromise of a mum and a kitten – since mum will care for the kitten whilst you are not there. If you are set on kittens it must of course be a pair for company and you should go home at lunchtime or arrange for someone else to feed and spend time with them in the middle of the day or take some time off work initially.

We have two main types of fostering: Short term and Long term (also known as Retirement fostering).

Short term fostering entails caring for cats in your home for a short while whilst a new permanent home is found.

During the busy Summer months of kitten season, Short term fosters are particularly required to care for mums and their unweaned litters of kittens until they are old enough for the family to be split and rehomed. Short term fosterers can also assist by caring for a pair of feral kittens in order to give them lots of attention and socialise them prior to rehoming.

We often have adult cats that would benefit from Short term fostering as well, e.g. a shy or depressed adult cat that is not coping well in a cattery environment or a cat recovering from an injury or illness. CHAT supplies cat litter, food and all the support you need and veterinary care the cats require during their stay in your home. If you have other pets, a spare room that can be dedicated to your foster cats will be needed.

Long term fostering or Retirement fostering is taking in an elderly cat or cat with an illness for the remainder of his or her life, which could be months or a few years – cats thrive on the love and attention of a good home, and even very elderly cats have surprised us by living considerably longer than expected.

Under the Long term foster scheme, Celia Hammond Animal Trust provides veterinary care via one of our veterinary clinics for the cat (specific details are agreed at the time for each cat).

N.B Our Sanctuary at Brede does not have the benefit of their own veterinary services, and instead uses a local private veterinary practice. To keep costs down, we ask that for any major health problems that cats Long term fostered via the Sanctuary are treated at either of the London Clinics; for minor problems the cat can be treated at the Sanctuary's local veterinary practice.

We do not usually supply litter and food for Long term fostered cats.

Unless an animal is terminally ill and suffering, then of course we will humanely put them to sleep.

All animals that come into our care are found new homes. This includes, elderly, nervous, disabled, virus positive but well (e.g. F.I.V positive), cats with conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease hyperthyroidism etc.

For animals that prove difficult to rehome, each Branch has a network of dedicated foster carers who will take these animals into their homes. Celia Hammond Animal Trust's sanctuary at Brede near Hastings is set in 50 acres of countryside and is home to 120 'unhomeable' animals, including many elderly feral and semi-feral cats.

This really depends upon your cat, whose best interests must be priority when discussing getting another cat, not what you or another family member wants.

Firstly, does your cat like other cats? Maybe you have previously had other cats? Otherwise you may be able to get a good indication from your cat's interaction with neighbourhood cats. Some cats get on with some cats and not others – observe which, as this will be helpful in deciding what cat to introduce, e.g. male or female.

If your cat really doesn't get on with any local cats and is very territorial when other cats come into your garden, then your cat would probably rather remain as an only cat; particularly as cats get older they can become very set in their ways and used to living alone.

Young cats and kittens are almost always happiest with another feline companion, and enjoy many hours each day playing together. If you work all day your cats will provide each other with valuable companionship and you will feel happier that you have not left your cat feeling lonely whilst you are away.

On the whole cats can happily live with and benefit from another feline companion. The newcomer should be as well matched to your cat as possible – cats are all individuals with different personalities, but there are some guidelines that help increase the chances of a successful new feline friendship.

When finding a companion for your young cat a cat of approximately the same age and with a similar level of energy is a good idea. For instance, a lively one year old is best matched with another lively young cat of 6 months to approx 2 years, a small kitten is not a good match because your lively one year old cat will play too roughly.

Kittens should ideally be adopted in pairs – usually sibling pairs, but if you have acquired a kitten from elsewhere and your kitten needs a friend it is best to take on another kitten of the same age give or take a week or two.

If you have an older adult cat who has perhaps been bereaved by the loss of its friend or sibling then a laid back middle aged cat who likes other cats will most likely make a good companion. In this situation it is often expressed to us that, having just experienced the loss of an older pet, there is a strong preference towards adopting kittens instead. If this is the case it is important to adopt a pair of kittens so that they will play together and your older resident cat can take or leave them as he or she pleases – the last thing an older cat wants is to have its tail pounced on and ears chewed by a bored and lively single kitten!

We are often asked if it is best to introduce a male or a female cat as a new companion. Neutered cats do not display strong male or female behaviour compared to unneutered cats. However there are general guidelines as to what combinations are likely to work best. If you have an adult cat of a few years or more then a cat of the opposite sex is recommended, however this is not to say that there are not many, many pairs of female cats and pairs of male cats living very contentedly together.

Ultimately however carefully you consider whether to adopt another cat or not it is only by trying to introduce a new companion that you will really find out if it will work or not.

When introducing a new cat do not expect them to be best friends overnight, the settling in process can easily take up to two weeks or longer. Your original cat will most likely, hiss, spit and grumble at the newcomer, this is normal and the two cats will need to sort out some initial house rules between themselves.

We take care to try and make sure that you adopt a cat that has a good chance of settling in with your cat with a harmonious result for both cats, but in the event that this does not happen we will have our cat back and find it another home.

One of the purposes of our home visit and initial discussions with prospective new owners is to try and ensure that you end up with the right sort of cat for your home and lifestyle. We have a very high success rate with matching cats to new owners, and in fact very few cats are returned to us because they haven't settled.

Our cats are rescued and particularly some of the more nervous cats and kittens will take time to settle in and trust their new owners. It is often a case with the nervous cases of several weeks or even months later, looking back and seeing what a transformation in their temperaments and confidence has occurred.

If you are concerned that your new cats or kittens are not settling in as expected call us for advice – we are very happy to provide follow up support and guidance, and would rather hear from you sooner rather than when you are at the point of despair and wanting to give up.

If you feel your cat has not settled, is the wrong cat for you, isn't as you hoped or whatever reason you do not want to keep your cat you can return the cat to us at any time. This is in fact a condition of adoption, so whether it's a week later or ten years later the cat needs to come back to us.

Celia Hammond Animal Trust does specialise in rescuing cats and over many years – led by our Founder Trustee, Celia Hammond – we have developed expertise working with stray and feral cats. CHAT also rescue as many unwanted pet cats and kittens as we do feral cats.

When other species of pet animals are brought to us or are discovered in need of help when we are involved in a cat rescue situation then we do take them in and find them new homes.

Celia Hammond Animal Trust usually has two or three dogs in our care at any time, we also often have rabbits and sometimes other small animals such as guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, mice and gerbils. They are usually included on our rehoming pages, but if we haven't got the animal you are seeking we can give you contact details of other animal rescue organisations who will have.

Sadly cats do get run over all too easily; our Veterinary Surgeons treat cats that have been involved in road traffic accidents on a daily basis, many other cats are killed on the roads or do not survive their injuries.

A country lane can be the most dangerous road as cats become complacent about infrequent traffic and then get caught out by a speeding car. Cats have been known to be run over in cul-de-sacs or on their owners' driveways, but on the whole the busier the road the more cats that are likely to be run over.

We do take in consideration road traffic as part of a home visit assessment. There are of course roads everywhere, it is access on to the roads and the amount of traffic and how fast it is travelling that affects the level of risk a cat is exposed to.

In London many streets are very safe for cats, long Victorian terraced streets back on to the gardens of another long terrace of houses, where if cats are only let out the back these gardens provide a very safe outdoor space for cats to enjoy without ever needing to reach the road.

Other semi-detached houses have very high side gates, or gates that can be made higher by adding wire mesh above the gate (increasing security for your home as well), gaps under gates can be blocked to encourage cats to stay at the back. It will also be important to take into consideration the condition of neighbours' side gates.

Cats are very agile and are good climbers and can easily climb over most garden fencing. Some people who live on busy roads have been able to sufficiently extend the height of fencing with trellis and wire mesh – the mesh should be bent inwards at the top to prevent cats climbing over at the top. Enclosing a garden, improving fencing or considering a cat run is something we can advise on at a home visit.

Some of our cats are considered to be more 'streetwise' than others – these will be cats who have previously lived on busy roads prior to being rescued, as they have not yet be run over we hope that they have some traffic sense and will stand a good chance of surviving in a new home near another busy road.

Kittens and young cats under 3 years old are the highest risk group for getting run over; friendly kittens can be particularly bold and when they first go outdoors have no road sense at all and are often over confident and liable to run straight out into the road.

If you live on a busy road and it is not possible to enclose or make access to the road difficult then we may suggest to you that you adopt older, less adventurous, streetwise cats, indoor only cats (cats that have not previously been out) or even don't adopt cats at all.

We have rescued our cats and kittens and do not want them to then be run over; we do care about their future safety and hope that prospective new cat owners would also want to keep their new cats as safe as possible. As it is some cats that we rehome do get run over and it is devastating to learn of cats that have been rescued, nursed back to health, taken time to gain their trust and been fortunate to have found caring new homes have then had their lives tragically cut short, their owners also find the experience desperately upsetting.

In our opinion it is better for cats to be safe and indoors only than being let out near a busy road and ending up run over and injured or killed. If you move home in future to a safe location they can always be introduced to going outdoors then.

For cats that will be going outside, a cat flap is a great benefit for your cat and for you. Cats that have a cat flap tend to go in and out around twenty times a day which certainly saves you getting up and down to open and close the door.

CHAT does not like cats being shut out when their owners are out or gone to bed. Cats that are shut out are likely to wander greater distances and may try and get attention at other neighbouring homes, most cats that go missing do so overnight. Also it is not nice for a cat to be shut out in the rain and cold, we like to think they are snug and cosy in your home!

Some people try and manage by letting their cats out only when they are at home, but this is not usually very successful as cats do not always come in when called and you may not be able to get your cats back indoors before going out, to work or bed. If you work full time a cat flap really becomes virtually essential.

Cat flaps can be locked so you can still keep your cats in at night (with a litter tray) or when you need or want to.

People tend to worry that all the neighbour cats will be coming in via the cat flap, but this does not usually turn out to be the case.

We prefer the basic 'normal' cat flaps in preference to electronic and magnetic cat flaps which require a cat to wear a collar with a tag which activates the cat flap. Many rescued cats – particularly those that were nervous – will not tolerate wearing a collar and shouldn't be made to do so. Collars can be dangerous as cats can get caught and hung on fences, in trees or get a leg or their jaw caught through them. If using a magnetic cat flap a safety collar that will come apart and fall off if the cat gets caught up must be worn.

There are now some new cat flaps on the market that read your cat's microchip and only let your cat in via the cat flap, thus wearing a collar is not required to activate the cat flap.

Where possible cat flaps should be fitted facing away from traffic (usually into the back garden). Cat flaps can be fitted into wooden doors, plastic and double glazed door panels, double glazed windows, single glazed doors and windows, and through brick walls. We can advise on where to fit a cat flap at a home visit.

If you are renting your home and the owner is not keen on a cat flap being fitted in a back door, discuss the possibility of being allowed to install one in a pane of glass that you can replace when you move out.

Yes, we seek to rehome our animals close to our rehoming centres.

Firstly, we always carry out a home visit at the home of potential adopters of our animals – we therefore need potential new owners to live within a reasonable distance of our centres so that we can carry out this initial visit.

Each Branch or centre has established their own rehoming area based on factors such as the best use of limited resources and how many trained home visitors they have available to carry out home visits, which are a time consuming but very important part of ensuring that our animals are rehomed not only to good homes but to suitable homes that meet their needs.

Secondly, we like to be close enough that if follow up support is required in settling in a newly adopted animal that a member of our rehoming teams is able to visit to give all the help that you require.

CHAT is based in three areas in the South East of England – Canning Town Branch in East London, Lewisham Branch in S.E. London and our Sanctuary near Hastings in East Sussex.

Canning Town Branch rehomes to areas adjacent to their rescue centre, i.e. all 'E' postcodes (E1 to E18), postcodes as far as Chafford Hundred, all 'IG' postcodes, and also N1, N4, N5, N7, N16 and N17.

Lewisham Branch rehome in all SE London postcode areas and also: Welling, Bexley, Sidcup, Swanley, Dartford, Bromley area (all BR postcodes), Croydon area, South West London SW8, SW9, SW2, SW11, SW4, SW12, SW16 and SW17.

Celia Hammond Animal Trust's Sanctuary at Brede near Hastings rehome domestic cats within a 25 mile radius, but will consider offers of homes slightly further away.

All three centres are always seeking homes for feral cats – OFFERS OF HOMES FOR FERAL CATS ARE CONSIDERED THROUGHOUT KENT, SUSSEX SURREY AND ESSEX.

If you live just outside our rehoming areas and are interested in a specific animal, or particularly if you are interested in offering a home to any of our 'harder to rehome' animals, please do contact us to discuss this further.

Our rehoming centres work together and liaise on a regular basis, so if you live in one of our rehoming catchment areas but wish to offer a home to an animal at one of our other rehoming centres then we can usually arrange this.

If you live outside our rehoming areas please do contact a rescue centre close to you and offer a home for one or more of their needy animals. Look on www.catchat.org for lots of information about rescue organisations large and small in the UK.