RDA UK advises 500 group closures around the UK as virus spreads
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has advised all its groups around the UK to close in response to latest government advice. As a result, many groups, whose income comes from riding and driving sessions, are facing financial hardship and the very real possibility of permanent closure without a vital injection of funds.
The closures will affect up to 25,500 disabled adults and children, many of whom rely on their weekly RDA sessions for physical therapy, health and wellbeing. RDA groups are also a vital community space for volunteers and participants to socialise, get active and have fun.
“Advising our groups to close is a big step – but it’s the right thing to do,” explains RDA UK Chief Executive Ed Bracher. “We have to prioritise the health of our participants and volunteers, and – like everyone – we must do what we can to help limit the spread of the virus. That said, with so many groups relying on income from weekly sessions to pay their running costs – including looking after their horses – fundraising for groups has now become more important than ever. I urge everyone to look up their local group and give what they can.”
The charity has also cancelled its Regional Qualifiers and National Championships, which will affect hundreds of the charity’s riders and carriage drivers, many of whom have already started preparing and practising. “This isn’t a decision we have made lightly. The Championships is the highlight of the year for many of us, and this is only the second time we have had to cancel in 40 years. But this is no ordinary situation and it is the right thing to do.”
“For now we must focus on supporting our groups as much as possible during this difficult time. They will need help from their local communities more than ever, so please find your nearest group and donate if you can. Lessons may have stopped – but horses still need to be fed and taken care of, so they are ready for their riders as soon as the situation improves.”
You can find your nearest group at www.rda.org.uk/rda-groups