Kathryn Whiteway (left) is Volunteer Coordinator with Racing Welfare, the charity that supports the workforce of British horseracing.
Once described as the ‘sport’s best kept secret’, the profile of Racing Welfare has grown significantly over the past few years and we now support more than 2,000 racing staff each year. The support we offer to people is confidential and non-judgemental and we can help with a range of life challenges including accidents; addiction; career advice; housing; money matters; illness; relationships and retirement. Furthermore, our support services are accessible 24hrs a day through our multi-channel helpline, Racing’s Support Line.
During the last few years my roles have been centred towards health and social care; I was running a county-wide health and peer support service, so when the chance came to support all the vital behind-the-scenes staff within the racing community, I felt it was the natural fit for my career.
I grew up in a racing family, was raised in Newmarket and have experienced life on a stud. I have never been too far from this industry but now this is my first role in racing and I’m happy to be part of an industry that I love.
Racing’s wide-ranging community is our focus. Our Welfare teams engage as much as possible with as many people as possible. A lot of what we do is aimed at reducing loneliness and social isolation. This could be providing holidays; hosting regular coffee mornings; helping with sports days and, of course, running our fantastic variety of outings for retired beneficiaries. Fish and chips at Great Yarmouth is always a firm favourite!
This year we have launched a new telephone service, ‘Be Friendly’, aimed at anyone of any age, which is another step in the work we do to support mental health and wellbeing within the industry. Linked to this will be our face-to-face Befriending Service to enhance and strengthen what we already provide. A small trial will be starting in Newmarket, which we hope to expand to all our regions over the course of the year, within our Volunteer Programme.
Racing Welfare already has a number of volunteers who have a valuable impact and help the charity achieve our aim of supporting racing’s workforce. Fortunately, not everyone will need our help, but our dedicated volunteers enables us to deliver support throughout the UK.
Volunteers either work directly in support of beneficiaries or through raising the funds needed to continue to provide the services that we offer. There are many ways to help and we would encourage people to look at the opportunities we and the other charities in the sport offer.
Working with the partners that make up Racing Together and through the new volunteer site will increase our ability to recruit and work alongside our fantastic volunteers.
I am inspired every day by the work we do and the people we help, and my love of horses combined with helping people to live better lives has given me a dream job.