The Riding for the Disabled Association has been established for over 40 years and currently has 1000 volunteers who take part on a weekly basis in Northern Ireland. With 28 RDANI groups all over the country you will never have to travel far to find one to join and most of our groups are always keen to recruit new volunteers!
We seek to give people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities access to one of the very few outdoor activities available for the disabled community and the RDA works hard to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to come along to the lessons.
Shirley Lee began volunteering when she was raising her two young children approximately 16 years ago and has since worked up to the position of Group Organiser and Instructor with her local group Banbridge and Moira.
She says “It is a rewarding experience when you see people progressing in their riding and getting so much happiness from the activities. For people with mobility problems being on a horse gives them the chance to move at the same speed as everyone else, free from the aid of a wheel chair. We help people to feel independent again. You definitely get more out of it than you put in.”
There are so many different roles within RDANI that you can choose to volunteer in a selection of areas and you don’t even have to go near a horse if you don’t want to! People are always welcome to help with administration, fund raising, tea and cake making as well as side walking, physiotherapy, instructing and helping out at events. All RDANI volunteers are required to undergo a background check prior to joining a group as they will be volunteering with vulnerable adults and children.
The majority of RDANI groups offer sessions during term times on a weekly basis and as long as you are over 12 years of age you are welcome to participate. Volunteers have a great amount of support from the regional and national offices, with training courses available for those who would like to achieve qualifications in the area they are working. The RDANI has strong loyalty from its volunteers and many have been involved from the very beginning.
“Once you start to come it does get very difficult to stop” says Shirley “You know that you are making a difference to peoples lives and that there are riders depending on you to be there. Each group is like a family, everyone works well together and the other volunteers are always around to help you.”This link contains a map showing all of our RDANI groups and contact information for each of them. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, boost your CV and participate in a worthwhile organisation. Come along!