Regional Community Executive, Adam Ferguson, supports the fundraising team with different community events that go on throughout the year in the North, including open days, racing staff boxing and racing staff week, as well as individual fundraising. He also organises community activities for both working and retired beneficiaries including coffee mornings, rounders, quiz nights, golf days and football tournaments - anything that brings the community together to prevent loneliness and isolation.
Adam tells us more about the community initiatives taking place through COVID-19.
We had lots of events planned for retired staff including an outing to Thirsk races at the end of April and to the racing museum in the summer, which have had to be cancelled and which would have been nice days out for both Malton and Middleham beneficiaries. We’ve had to go back to the drawing board to see what we can do differently whilst building a sense of community and including as many people as possible.
So we have focused on what we can do to prevent loneliness and social isolation. A lot of our retired beneficiaries either live at home by themselves or with a partner or close friends; we have made sure we reach out to all of them and everybody who’s on our beneficiary list over the age of 60 has received a call from one of the welfare teams just to check in, make sure they are all ok and see if there is anything we can do to support them. We have created regional databases full of different community initiatives, available in different areas of the country and our welfare teams are busy linking people in to what's going on.
We’ve carried out several calls to racing’s retired community and a number of the calls have brought up the opportunity for beneficiaries to receive additional or ongoing support from Racing Welfare. One of which was a phone call to a chap based in Newmarket. I checked in with him to make sure he was all right and he explained that his fridge freezer had actually broken down. He was isolating and not able to get out to the shops as often as he used to. He didn’t have a fridge or freezer to keep his food fresh, so he asked us if we could support him. The community team referred him back to the welfare officers who immediately purchased him a new fridge freezer.
Another exciting new project, is the virtual coffee mornings. Coffee mornings in person have been cancelled and this has left a lot more people feeling lonely or vulnerable at this time, so instead we’ve set up a coffee morning on Facebook to enable retired racing staff the opportunity to get together and still receive talks from guest hosts and guest speakers - just like they would at our coffee mornings throughout the year. We have created a group on Facebook specifically for retired staff who can join every Thursday at 11 o’clock. We have a guest speaker talk about their racing history and tell their stories to the retired beneficiaries.
We’ve had Derek Thompson on so far, it was fantastic, we’ve got 90 people in the group now and they all tuned in to listen to Tommo do his live performance, it was really successful, there were a lot of positive comments coming from the racing community asking for us to do it more and asking for it to be longer. We’ve got Peter Scudamore and Lucinda Russell lined up, Ed Chamberlin and Richard Hoiles and Graham Orange is hopefully going to get involved too. We are hoping to get as many racing faces on to the screen as possible to help keep the retired racing community entertained.
The virtual coffee mornings have allowed us to reach out to beneficiaries who have never engaged with us in the past. This is especially important for those living in more rural locations or those with mobility difficulties who can’t normally get to other retired staff events. So what we’re hoping to do moving forward, is to continue to live stream guest speakers into these groups when they’re delivering talks at the attended coffee mornings when they are back up and running. It’s not going to be a case of them ending when lockdown is lifted. If anything the level of engagement has shown us what a positive initiative this is for many people. This is something we can continue to grow and develop throughout the year and moving forward. You can join Racing Welfare's virtual coffee morning here.