The Volunteers helping Make Accessibility Mark a Success
The beginning of June sees the annual volunteer week that has proved so popular it has now been extended from June 1- 12. This big celebration aims to shine a light on those who give up their valuable spare time to make a real difference to the people in their community.
The Volunteers at Parkside Stables based in Alfreton, Derbyshire, are a much valued part of the team, helping with all aspects of the day to day running of the yard. This now includes helping with the Accessibility Mark sessions following their recent accreditation.
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) participation programme launched the Accessibility Mark scheme to encourage those who do not already partake in equestrian activities or would not usually have the opportunity to do so, to experience the many benefits that riding can bring.
Without volunteers many clubs and events would cease to exist but for many people giving up their free time can also be incredibly rewarding.
Parkside Stables has eight volunteers who regularly enjoy helping out, with some fitting their volunteering in around their working lives. Many start off by attending for riding lessons themselves, only to then discover they would like to become more involved with the horses.
This is a great way for the stables to acquire volunteers as it means the staff get to know the individuals before they take on a greater role, once all relevant safeguarding checks have been carried out. As an Accessibility Mark accredited centre all the volunteers have to participate in the training day carried out by the Accessibility Support Officer (ASO), which is a further commitment on their time, but is essential to ensuring the high standards expected from RDA.
Parkside Stables Manager Amanda Stalker said: “The role of the volunteers is invaluable, and they build up a real rapor with our riders. Their energy and enthusiasm is a breath of fresh air and it is such a pleasure to see how rewarding it is to both the volunteers and our clients.”
“Some of our volunteers booked time off work so they were available for the Accessibility Mark training day. Our ASO, Lizzie Hill made it such a fun and informative day everyone had a fantastic time, while giving us a better understanding of the difficulties faced by disabled riders.
“Any centre that provides lessons for clients with learning disabilities will understand the need for routine, meaning they need the same helper to work their schedules around the time that the clients book their lessons. Our volunteers are some very special people,” added Amanda.
Parkside Stable Volunteer Rachel Miller had this to say about her experience: “I was really happy to become a volunteer at Parkside Stables; it has a really friendly atmosphere. Having attending class lessons myself for about two years I decided to stay and help out with some of the general yard duties, this then progressed to becoming a volunteer. I try to help out at least one day every week.
“It is rewarding in lots of ways and has become an important part of my weekly commitments. With the support and training of everyone at Parkside I have gained confidence and skills with regards to the care and safety of the customers and horses. Volunteering is a really positive way to help people in the local community.”
Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide you with a first class service and an experience that aims to be hugely beneficial. There are currently 28 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.
To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit www.rda.org.uk.
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