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RDA calls on government to tackle loneliness through volunteering

Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is calling on government to use volunteering as a method of tackling loneliness and mental health problems. A new report by the national charity, highlights the positive impact volunteering can have on the health and wellbeing of both RDA participants and their volunteers.  

Group of RDA volunteers

Following a survey of 1,629 volunteers, RDA is marking it's 50th anniversary with the release of a new report on the impact of volunteering. The report was presented at a Parliamentary Reception in Westminster, hosted by MP for Cheltenham, Alex Chalk on Wednesday 6 February, with the charity calling on the government to recognise the dual benefit that volunteering brings.

RDA’s 18,000 amazing volunteers contribute more than three million hours of their time each year and are the backbone of the organisation’s success. According to the report, 96 per cent of these volunteers said that RDA had improved their overall satisfaction with life, and 81 per cent said that volunteering makes them feel better about themselves. 

With one in six people experiencing a mental health problem in any given week, the research is clear about the benefits of volunteering for mental health, as people gain more perspective and become less inward focused. 

RDA and its horses benefit the lives of 25,600 disabled children and adults through its 500 groups across the UK. Volunteers form an integral part in helping to transform the lives of those they help, whilst as the report acknowledges having a measurable impact on their own lives.

As RDA celebrate its 50th anniversary, there is still much to do to increase the number of people who can benefit from their work and so they have developed three calls to action to deliver its future plans and meet the ever increasing demand for its services.

They are:

  1. Government to recognise that volunteering for RDA delivers dual benefit for both the community and the individual volunteer and also contribute to tackling loneliness, and improving mental and physical health.
  2. Local government and appropriate agencies, such as Clinical Commissioning Groups and local GPs to signpost and refer volunteering opportunities through social prescribing, for volunteers to work with RDA.
  3. Existing and new funding partners to support RDA in reaching more volunteers and enabling more people to benefit from activities.

RDA Chief Executive, Ed Bracher said:

"The report shows clear and robust evidence that our volunteers feel more useful and better about themselves, they are more sociable and physically active and learn new skills and gained more confidence.
"With a clear sense of our future vision and direction, RDA is committed to attracting and supporting increasing numbers of volunteers."

This vital research carried out by RDA was funded by Sport England, through the British Equestrian Federation, as part of a wider grant to support volunteer development.

The full report is available on the RDA website, along with more information about riding and volunteering opportunities.