Who are we?
We are a purpose built Riding for the Disabled centre based in Bromham, just outside of Bedford. We have been at the centre of our community for quite a while ( since 1975) supporting hundreds of people with a disability to ride. We provide therapy, fitness, skills development and opportunities for achievement - all whilst being supported by hundreds of volunteers throughout this time!
We work throughout the week helping independent participants and children from local special schools and other organisations. We're the only RDA site in Bedfordshire and the only purpose built centre in the surrounding areas and so there is a high demand for our services which has only increased with lockdown!
The impacts of Covid
During lockdown we ( like many other charities) had to close down and suspend sessions. This along with cancelled events and fundraising meant a substantial loss of income for the charity! We took to the challenge and adapted to new ways of working and new digital income streams however when the all clear was given to open it took a while to get our services open again. This was due to having limited staffing (we are a volunteer led organisation) and bringing our ponies back into work (you wouldn't run a marathon after no training) and the need to recruit a substantial amount of new volunteer numbers to support the extra needs of our participants and running sessions.
Why we need your help?
We are not quite back to pre-covid levels of work (needing additional coaches and volunteers to deliver pre-covid levels) and so whilst we continue to subsidise sessions for our participants it means the amount needed increases while we recover sessions to pre-covid levels of participants while running costs remain the same / increase. We also support a number of other services and local special schools with more heavily subsidised sessions.
We need your help to allow us to continue operating and subsidising our riding fees in order to keep our services accessible for people who need it.
What impact does RDA make?
RDA has an established history of making an impact to its participants and in the most recent research caried out by the Riding for the Disabled Association they saw sessions have the below impact on its service users:
- 68% Improve Communication
- 76% Experience more enjoyment
- 77% Show greater confidence
- 76% Experience physical improvement
- 82% Improve ability to build relationships
Don't just take our word for it.... Here is what our participants parents say:
"He was excited and glad to be riding again. We, as parents feel riding has helped him immensely with managing his fears, developing his confidence and above all helped him with improving his physical abilities, especially his coordination, posture and strength.”
"Please pass on my thanks on to the whole team at the riding centre, I can't tell you what a positive difference riding is making in x life.
She has had a really tough few days, which led to meltdowns, but when I said we weren't going to be able to make it in time to riding she managed to dress herself and come downstairs put a smile on and get herself together.
I was concerned she might still wobble and refuse last minute, but being greeted so warmly by your volunteers (as they do every week) means so much to her, and makes such a big difference. I can watch her visibly relax her shoulders and stop clenching her fists when we come in - and I can't believe how chatty she is with you all already!!
She spent most of the car journey home whispering how Sam is the best horse in the whole wide world.
I'm so incredibly grateful for you all, not just for running the centre, but for being so smiley and friendly and making her feel at ease. It's amazing what she can achieve when she isn't feeling stressed or anxious.
You are all such incredible people."