These are exceptional times for British horseracing and breeding, times that could have a lasting effect on the industry. For Racing Welfare the financial impact of Covid-19 has been severe.
The charity is experiencing a significant drop in income as fundraising events and activities have been cancelled. With no certainty as to when these events may be rearranged, the charity faces a loss of fundraising income amounting to £500,000 in 2020.
This has come at a time when Racing Welfare is experiencing a notable increase in demand for their services. The Covid-19 crisis has affected many people who may never have had to apply for welfare support before and the racing and breeding industry is no different. The charity’s online self-help usage has gone up significantly since the Covid-19 outbreak and support of individuals has increased by 290%; between the 17th March and the 7th April, the charity supported a total of 551 individuals with Covid-19 related issues.
The restrictions imposed by the Government have also meant the charity has had to change the way it operates. With face to face visits no longer possible, the charity’s team of welfare officers have been reaching out to their local communities in new ways.
Simone Sear, Director of Welfare, commented: “We have had to stop all yard, racecourse and stud visits, so we’ve formed a team to look at how we can stay connected with our community and keep that conversation going. We’re still calling yards to check they’re okay and maximising our telephone befriending service, which has been running for some time. If we do call someone and they’re in trouble, it’s about us knowing how we can help them and get support to them.”
It is clear that Racing Welfare are needed now more than ever and the positive impact of their work can be seen in yards and studs nationwide. Chasemore Farm in Surrey are just one of the studs who have benefited from Racing Welfare’s support. Chasemore’s local welfare officer, Katy Ferguson, has been making contact with local yards and studs in her area to reassure everyone that Racing Welfare is still very much in operation, and to signpost anyone who may need support to the wide range of services we can offer, including the recently launched Covid-19 hardship grants.
Sophie Watmuff, spokeswoman for Chasemore Farm, said: “The guidance and reassurance provided by Racing Welfare in this uncertain time has been outstanding. The team at Chasemore Farm know that if they need that extra bit of support, Racing Welfare are there for the wellbeing of people in the thoroughbred breeding community.”
The Racing Welfare Emergency Covid-19 Appeal has been kick-started by a wonderful donation of £50,000 from a prominent figure within the industry who wishes to remain anonymous, but there is still a long way to go.
You can support Racing Welfare now by donating on this Just Giving page and sharing it with your friends and families: justgiving.com/campaign/RWEmergencyAppeal
Karen can usually be found glued to her computer or at the stables. Having edited several national magazines she co-founded Eclipse Magazine in 2008 after realising that many of her friends were nervous about going racing due to lack of information – what to wear, how to bet etc.
She absolutely loves her job (how many people can say that?!) and is truly grateful to all supporters of and contributors to Eclipse Magazine.
If you are reading this she would like to say THANK YOU! (And please spread the word about Eclipse…!!)