International Day of People with Disabilities: Racing’s commitment to disability inclusion

03 Dec 23

This International Day of People with Disabilities, we reflect on the importance of fostering a culture of inclusivity, not just within British racing, but across society as a whole. Lyndon Roberts, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), explains the importance of the day and what racing is doing to support people with disabilities.

In the United Kingdom alone, approximately 16 million people – nearly a quarter of the population – are living with disabilities.

These disabilities span a wide spectrum, from physical impairments to conditions that might make people learn and think in different ways. Not all disabilities are visible, including conditions such as autism, which can significantly impact an individual’s daily life while often remaining unnoticed by others.

The significance of International Day of People with Disabilities extends beyond the disabled community. It is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the unique abilities and perspectives that individuals with disabilities bring, and by doing so help create a world that is better equipped to meet the needs of everyone.

In my short time working in racing, I have seen a number of projects that exemplify the commitment to disability inclusion the industry is making. These initiatives go beyond mere gestures, demonstrating a genuine effort to make horseracing accessible to everyone.

Below are just a few of these. The amazing thing about them is that they are within reach of any organisation within the industry; there is an opportunity for employers, racecourses, yards and education providers to engage with disability inclusion in their own way.

Autism in Racing 

Autism in Racing is a programme that aims to create an inclusive environment for individuals with autism within the horseracing community. By offering tailored experiences and support, this initiative ensures that the joy of horseracing is accessible to everyone.

RCA Racecourse Accessibility Project 

The RCA Racecourse Accessibility Project is a collective effort by British racecourses to enhance customer accessibility and welcome disabled guests. This project recognises the diverse needs of racegoers and strives to create an environment where everyone, particularly those with disabilities, feels comfortable and included. Coordinated by the RCA, this initiative includes working with disability experts Level Playing Field to conduct audits of racecourse facilities and supporting the international Sunflower CampaignWatch this video to find out more.

Chepstow Racecourse partnership with LATCH 

The partnership between Chepstow Racecourse and LATCH is a shining example of collaboration for a cause. By supporting LATCH, a charity dedicated to the welfare of children undergoing treatment for cancer, Chepstow Racecourse demonstrates its commitment to making a positive impact beyond the racing track, showcasing the broader social responsibility of the horseracing community. This initiative won Chepstow the 2023 RCA Racing Connection Award.

RCA supports Dementia Friendly Guide 

The RCA’s support for the Dementia Friendly Guide is a testament to the industry’s awareness and responsiveness to the needs of those living with dementia. This guide led the RCA to hosting Dementia Friends training for racecourses, with the first cohort going through in October 2023. Racecourses now have a growing network of Dementia Friends, who can return to their local racecourses to deliver the sessions. This is in addition to all racecourses in Scotland who already had completed the training.

BHA: A Disability Confident Employer 

The BHA, the governing body of British racing, has signed up to the Government led Disability Confident scheme for employers. The scheme is designed to remove barriers to employment for disabled people. This includes offering guaranteed interviews for people with disabilities who meet the essential criteria for a job, anonymous shortlisting within the recruitment process and providing workplace adjustments. This provides a visible commitment to disabled people that the BHA are proactive in employing disabled people.

Injured Jockeys Fund 

It is also important to mention the incredible work of the Injured Jockeys Fund, which provides support to jockeys at all stages of their career with injuries but also long-term health conditions and acquired disabilities.

British racing’s dedication to initiatives such as those listed above, but also so many others the length and breadth of the country, reflects a commitment to fostering an environment where everyone can participate, enjoy, and contribute to racing. Together, we can continue to make horseracing a sport that truly belongs to everyone.

If you would like support, advice or guidance regarding disability inclusion, please contact the BHA’s Diversity and Inclusion Team via [email protected].