Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is part of a collaborative action of organisations championing a united response for Volunteers’ Week 1-7 June. This week, charities across the UK are coming together to say a massive thank you to all volunteers.
Volunteers have played a vital role throughout this year, especially helping the nation through the current pandemic. They will go on to play a role in helping us to get back to the things that we love as we ease out of lockdown. By joining forces in Volunteers Week 2020, we are aiming to increase visibility of the vital efforts that all volunteers have made this year.
Throughout the week organisations across the UK will be showcasing the amazing contribution volunteers have made. Although all RDA groups around the UK are closed during lockdown, volunteers are continuing to contribute a huge amount to their communities – keeping in touch with their clients, families and school groups, and looking after the horses.
At Windsor & Ascot Carriage Driving RDA Group, volunteers like Ellie Millyard have been working hard to ensure the group – and its ponies – is ready for clients when the time is right to open again. She explains why it’s so important to her that the group continues:
“RDA is not just sitting in a carriage or riding a horse, there’s so much more to it. I know all our members are safe and well, but you can’t help worrying. The uncertainty at the moment is difficult for everyone, but especially for some of our clients. I’m looking forward to seeing everybody together and the joy on our members’ faces when they are back with the ponies. Everything will pale into insignificance when we can bring RDA back into people’s lives.”
Susan Ashton is an RDA rider and volunteer at Kesteven RDA in Lincolnshire, keeping busy during lockdown by helping to generate publicity and much needed funds for the group, writing bids for grants and blogs about the benefits of RDA. She is also a vital link to the group for the riders and their families at home, sending them videos of the horses, sharing news and fun activities on social media.
Susan says: “We need to keep people in touch, particularly some of the younger ones. They have such a strong relationship with the horses and it’s difficult for them to understand why they can’t come. The thing I’m most looking forward to is seeing everyone, and seeing the ponies – having that closeness with them. It’s a real panacea for life’s ills.”
Head of Communications & Insight at RDA UK, Caroline Ward said: “RDA groups play a vital role in communities all over the UK, and that hasn’t stopped during lockdown. We know that the support our volunteers have been giving to their clients and their families is making a huge difference, and of course, the care of our horses must continue. Volunteers Week is a time to recognise that support. But we will also be taking time to recognise and think about those volunteers who are self-isolating, and facing their own challenges during this difficult time.”
Volunteer recognition will continue throughout the week, with particular focus on different themes each day:
- Monday – Listening & Support
- Tuesday – Health & Well-being
- Wednesday – Fundraising to support service delivery
- Thursday – COVID-19 response and informal community civic action
- Friday – Nature & the Outdoors
- Saturday – Arts & Culture
- Sunday – Sport & Leisure
RDA is currently running an emergency appeal to support its groups most at risk during lockdown. Please donate at www.justgiving.com/campaign/rdacovid19