We have chosen Racing Welfare as our charity of the month for April, they offer professional guidance and practical help to staff whose dedication is vital for the well-being of British horseracing. Their work aims to help people thrive in day to day life and through a range of life’s challenges. Playing an essential role in the racing community they are certainly unsung heroes. Lauren Braithwaite, Communications Executive at the charity, gives us a further view to the great work they do.
Can you please give us a brief overview of what your charity does and who it supports?
Racing Welfare is the only charity that supports all of racing’s people – including stud, stable and racecourse staff, alongside those working in associated professions – from their recruitment right through into retirement. The charity provides a wide range of advice and guidance services, all of which are completely confidential and non-judgmental. Support is available for a wide range of life’s challenges, including physical health, mental health, bereavement, careers advice, housing, money advice, illness, addiction, relationships and retirement.
Where are you based?
Racing Welfare’s services are nationally accessible with offices in all of the main racing centres and roving Welfare Officers covering the whole of the country.
The charity owns 164 units of accommodation across the UK, with a focus on providing housing for young people working in racing and those who have retired from the industry which are managed by its housing arm, Racing Homes.
How much have you been impacted by Covid-19?
There is no doubting the impact has been huge and this isn’t just in terms of the numbers of people we have supported. We have seen a big increase in those coming to us from all sectors of the industry such as racecourse staff, who now understand they can turn to us for support. The range of challenges beneficiaries have been facing has also broadened during this time.
Five years ago we helped 800 people over 12 months, by the end of 2019 that number had risen to 2,520. In 2020 that number grew again and by the end of the year we had supported an incredible 4,533 people. The industry turned to Racing Welfare when the pandemic hit and we were ready and able to not only distribute grants but also to support the industry’s workforce with their mental and physical health.
The result has been that the work of our Welfare Officers has been more intense, they have been working not only with more people but with those people for longer, helping with things like navigating the benefits system. Additionally, of course, all this has had to be done remotely.
We have also focussed hard on tackling loneliness through the pandemic – not just in our retired beneficiaries but also those who are geographically isolated. Making our coffee mornings virtual with the Racing Conversation Facebook group has been one the big successes of 2020 as has our Check-in and Chat service – to see racing people volunteering and supporting other racing people with these calls has been very rewarding.
How can people get directly involved with the charity?
Racing Welfare operates through the generosity and support of people and organisations that care about those working behind-the-scenes in horseracing who make the sport possible. There are many ways that you can support Racing Welfare from volunteering to taking on a challenge and you can find out more at racingwelfare.co.uk/ways-to-support/
For Racing Welfare the financial impact of Covid-19 has been severe as we experienced a significant drop in income as fundraising events and activities were cancelled. Our usual calendar of fundraising events continues to be impacted by the pandemic at a time when Racing Welfare’s services have never been more crucial to the wellbeing of those working in the industry. You can find out more about Racing Welfare’s Lost Events Appeal and donate here: justgiving.com/campaign/RWlostevents
Can you share with us an example of somebody that the charity has helped?
Fran Marshall, who works as an Owners’ and Trainers’ Liaison at Musselburgh Racecourse has been on furlough for over a year since COVID-19 struck. Fran has found the most powerful form of support from Racing Welfare is knowing the welfare team is there to listen.
She says: “I’ve known about Racing Welfare for a very long time, since its inception. It never occurred to me that they would help me as I work at racecourses not in yards or at a stud. I first received physical support through Racing Welfare when I had a knee replacement two years ago.
I’ve also talked a lot to the Racing Welfare team, I do have depression as well so I’ve talked to my local welfare officer and it has been ongoing support. Things are tough. I had cancer about five years ago and it has been a long battle back to be quite honest. Through COVID I have been furloughed so talking on a regular basis has been helpful”
You can read Fran’s full story here.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RACING WELFARE:
Head to: www.racingwelfare.co.uk
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Podcast: Listen to On Track, Off Course, The Racing Welfare Podcast HERE or wherever you get your pods. On Track, Off Course hears big racing names talking about subjects we don’t normally hear discussed and topics have included everything from grief and anxiety to women in racing and loneliness. Previous episodes include conversations with Racing TV Broadcasters Lydia Hislop, Tom Stanley and Rishi Persad as well as former jockey George Baker, trainer Ralph Beckett and leading jockey Hayley Turner.