Racing Welfare was formed 22 years ago. Back then, there were a group of charities: all of them small and not working effectively together. A steward at the Jockey Club decided to simplify things, and to create two new charities: Racing Welfare, and a housing association called Racing Homes. Today, those two organisations work to support everyone involved in the racing industry, providing housing for those who need it most, with 165 units of accommodation throughout the country, based predominantly in the racing centres of Newmarket, Malton, Middleham, Epsom and Lambourn.
It costs around £3.5m a year to run the charity, and all the money has to be raised by us. We have a bunch of grants, and otherwise rely on donations, fundraisers, corporate givers and investments. It's hard to keep pushing for the funds, but what we do is important, so it's imperative we keep plugging away. Our 'Friends of Racing Welfare' scheme, for example, allows individuals to contribute £5 a month or more to us. But there are so many ways to get involved in what we do.
Racing has an incredible service provision from Racing Welfare, both in terms of mental health support and occupational health support. Most importantly, there's 24/7 helpline open 365 days a year that poeple can contact. We also have a training programme, addiction support and counselling, along with proactive services that work to help people prevent people getting into crisis. Racing Welfare has offices across the country, not just in Newmarket. Additionally, we keep employees dotted around the UK: a field force of welfare officers from Scotland to the Westcountry, Wales to London.
We hope people who have a passion for the sport will want to support us in some way. That can be anything from spreading the word about what we do - following us on social media, for example - to getting involved in our events. You might want to take part in a cycle ride for us, or in this year's Three Peaks Challenge. Everything we raise goes to support those involved with making the show happen, so you can continue enjoying the sport you love.