Racing Welfare's Be Friendly Service is available to everyone who works in racing. If you are feeling lonely or isolated you can sign up to a weekly befriending call and talk to a befriender in a safe and secure environment.
Below, we spoke to Jane, who works as a Stud Hand and used the service following the birth of her son.
How did you hear about racing’s befriending service?
I have worked as a Stud Hand for many years so I knew my local welfare officer from her regular visits to the stud. After I had a baby and was feeling low, I contacted her. She recommended the Be Friendly service as an option. I felt alone and thought I would try it.
What made you use the service?
I didn’t realise how cut off I would feel after having a baby. I love my baby to pieces but I didn’t realise it would be such a shock. I struggled with feeding him and I was exhausted and didn’t even have time to drink a hot cup of tea let alone get out of the house. It made me feel very isolated. I also found the physical recovery hard and I really missed my old life.
How often did you use the befriending service?
After the first call I decided to do it every week. It helped to talk about it and not feel judged. It’s hard to admit it as having a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life.
What was your overall experience?
It helped to get everything off my chest and it felt like a relief. Chatting about it made me realise it is normal to feel the way I did and that I could get help if I needed it. The befriender was kind and if I was feeling low, I knew I had my weekly call to chat about it.
How has it helped you?
I didn’t feel so alone and it helped me not to feel so ashamed. I eventually managed to tell my family how I felt. I’m a single mum living in a rural area and it helped not to feel so lonely just having a friendly voice on the end of the phone. We didn’t always talk about how I felt sometimes we just chatted about the weather or horses or general life stuff.
Did you build a relationship with the befriender?
Yes the befriender made me feel at ease and I knew it was confidential. I feel it helped that they understood racing and the fact I missed the hustle and bustle of the yard and the horses.
Would you use it again?
Hopefully I won’t feel that way again but if I ever did suffer from loneliness then yes I definitely would.
Would you recommend the service?
Yes I never realised what talking for just half an hour per week could do for me. I felt more positive after the phone call and more confident. I would recommend it to anyone - young or old.