Links Group Annual General Meeting

12th November 2019

Chair’s Report

The time has flown in my first year as Links Group Chair. It has been another busy year as we continue to progress and move forward. We re-defined our vision and mission last year and set ourselves ambitious objectives. These will be reviewed, and updates given during today’s meeting. Areas which continue to require focus include website development, our membership and the guidance documents.

We are very aware there is a dearth of research in the area in which we work. It is now over 20 years since Helen Munro undertook the research which gave us the diagnostic indicators for non-accidental injury in companion animals. It is this research which started the process of raising awareness of NAI in the veterinary profession. Given that at the time awareness was low, and reporting lower, we felt the time was right to repeat this work. We are therefore collaborating with the University of Edinburgh, SSPCA and Dogs Trust to do just that. The survey, which is aimed at veterinary surgeons remains open until the end of the year.

The team continues its awareness raising activities. Since April we have spoken at:

  • Liverpool Vet School (May 19)
  • LVTI Training, Wetherby (June 19) PB and FSP
  • LVTI Training, Gloucester (Sept 19) PB and FSP
  • SSPCA Links Conference (Sep 19)
  • Glasgow Vet School (Oct 19)
  • Nottingham Vet School (Oct 19)
  • LVTI Training, Cambridge (Oct 19) PB and FSP

Our gratitude goes to BSAVA for facilitating the LVTI training across their regions; the help and input from the team at BSAVA HQ and regional volunteers has been amazing.

You will see that our past chair, Freda Scott-Park, whilst not with us today (Freda sends her apologies) is still very active promoting our Links work. In addition to the LVTI training, Freda has also been busy with the following:

  • Feb 19: Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies students conference: speed talk on the Links Group
  • Feb 19: One Welfare talk to BSc students on the Links (with PB) at the Royal Veterinary College
  • March 19: Napier College lecture to degree student veterinary nurses
  • June 19: Independent Vet Care (UK’s biggest corporate): briefed their Board in London about Links Veterinary Training Initiative – waiting for invite to talk further to their Welfare Committee

Freda continues to lobby the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to recognise on the following matters:

  • All members of the veterinary team need Links Veterinary Training Initiative training
  • Appointment of a SLO (Safeguarding Liaison Officer) in each practice / group of practices
  • Discussions around ‘confidentiality’ versus ‘communication’ to a trusted individual or group to protect safety
  • GDPR: how to record ‘gut feeling’ that something isn’t right

Whilst there has been no response to date, Freda perseveres.

Freda has also provided a research comment for the Veterinary Record in recent weeks to accompany the publication of the manuscript from Emma Alleyne at the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology at the University of Kent.

Freda and I attended the inaugural meeting of the Links Veterinary Working Group hosted by the SSPCA in early November. This was a follow up to the SSPCA conference held in June 2018, which highlighted the lack of experts in both clinical forensics and forensic pathology across the UK. The Links group is ideally placed to contribute to this, in terms of the veterinary undergraduate training we deliver, something that we are already enhancing by encouraging input from forensic pathologists during the sessions.

We were lucky to be offered stand space at the National Pet Show early in November; this was generously given by BSAVA. The team did an amazing job in mobilising everything we needed to man the stand, including drafting in pet fostering colleagues. Huge thanks to Vicki and Wendy who made this happen.

In terms of upcoming events we are contributing to talks at the London Vet Show later this week, a great opportunity to raise awareness of the research. We already have 2020 dates for veterinary undergraduate training at the Royal Veterinary College and the Universities of Surrey, Liverpool and Nottingham, and a talk at the University of Ghent.

Over the next year, we will look to focus further on our objectives including attaining charitable status (a topic of discussion at today’s meeting), which will help us when applying from grant funding. The officer team has, as ever, been amazing in what we have achieved this year. The effort that goes in behind the scenes in addition to their day jobs is phenomenal; we meet in between the main Links group meetings, and their dedication and enthusiasm raises our profile and keeps us moving forward, for which I am truly indebted. Benjamin Franklin once said that ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’; there is no better way to describe them.

Paula Boyden

Chair, Links Group

November 2019


We would like to congratulate two of our committee members, Wendy Sneddon and Vicki Betton, on being awarded the BSAVA Ray Butcher Memorial Award at BSAVA congress. This award is BSAVA’s unsung hero award which is presented annually to recognise an individual who has made a significant contribution to animal welfare. Wendy and Vicki were awarded for their hard work creating ‘Animal Welfare in Violent Homes’, an online CPD course to help human health professionals understand animal abuse, and the link with other types of family violence. What an achievement! The course can be accessed for free here-