Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) has welcomed the government announcement regarding the benefits of social prescribing to support health.

£12.7m of funding has been allocated for social prescribing by GPs across 11 local authorities in England.
Social prescribing allows GPs to connect people with non-clinical programmes in their community to support mental and physical wellbeing and reduce reliance on prescription medication.

Volunteering with RDA, which can involve regular social interaction, contact with animals and access to the outdoors has an important role to play in addressing wider societal concerns around loneliness, mental health and wellbeing, according to the charity.

The RDA’s 2019 report ‘Horses, Health and Happiness’ demonstrated evidence that volunteering with the charity made people feel more useful and better about themselves, and encouraged members to be more sociable and physically active.

“We are well-placed to make social prescribing a reality in communities all over the UK, supporting people to take part in purposeful activity, overcome social isolation and loneliness and to benefit from the therapeutic effect of spending time with animals,” said Volunteer Development Coordinator Faye McKenning.

RDA Coach and Community Charity worker Mahmoud has been campaigning for social prescribing with his local council for 10 years.

“RDA is one of the best opportunities for social prescribing in the UK today” said Mahmoud. “I’m very interested in equine therapy because it is one of the ways we can actually help people with mental health and communication problems without resorting to expensive health care.”

“RDA is a very important asset within the community. 90 percent of the clients I work with would benefit from using RDA-like services, either as volunteers or participants, because they come under the category of people with mental health problems, high risk of suicide or isolation. And I believe working with horses would benefit them directly.”