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How does the Funding 4 Suffolk portal help local VCFSE groups access funding?

We asked Kelvin Silburn from Riding for the Disabled (Woodbridge & District Group) how the portal works for him.

“The portal has lots of information including what the grant will and won’t fund”

We were thrilled to be able to visit Kelvin Silburn and his colleagues at RDA (Woodbridge & District Group) who was one of the many recipients of funding after using the Funding 4 Suffolk portal operated by Community Action Suffolk. Our Financial Sustainability Officer, Andy Cooke was keen to see firsthand the results of the funding available via Funding 4 Suffolk.

Meeting the team andLulu

Driving along a long pristinely kept driveway surrounded by lush fields, Andy already had high expectations of what to expect from RDA (Woodbridge & District Group) and it didn’t disappoint! Andy was met by Kelvin a volunteer at RDA Woodbridge who gave him a full tour of their bespoke buildings. The highlight was meeting Lulu a very well behaved and beautiful horse that was resting after working earlier that morning. As we strolled around the grounds and met the friendly team, we also found out more about the important work that is done at RDA Woodbridge.

Photo: Lulu, Kelvin and Andy in the horse arena.

What happens at RDA (Woodbridge & District Group)? ‘I feel so happy, I feel I might spontaneously combust!’

The group uses horses to provide a range of therapeutic activities to both adults and children. Kelvin explained that these activities offer many benefits, for example, the physical therapy from riding in terms of balance and movement is unique but the positive effects of all of the activities on offer on the participants mental wellbeing are just as important.

As we chatted the noise of laughing children was radiating from the horse arena, children from Stone Lodge a special school for students with complex Moderate Learning Difficulties were having a session. Stone Lodge pupils are regular visitors, with groups initially focussed learning about the care of horses and the equipment used, before graduating to riding. Staff judge the impact to be powerful, stating the volunteers have ‘nurtured the children and, through their kind approach, have enabled the children to be kinder and to develop relationships out of school in the community with adults. Staff from Stone Lodge Academy have also stated that on returning to school after each session, the students have been ’calm, ready for learning, attuned to other people and in such a better place.  Perhaps the most telling quote was from a pupil who said ‘I feel so happy, I feel I might spontaneously combust!’

When RDA (Woodbridge & District Group) was approached by Suffolk Refugee Support to help their clients, coach Victoria Gallantree willingly agreed to develop and run an innovative small-scale programme. She freely admits that she has been surprised at the level of success achieved and the incredible difference it has made to the life of a young unaccompanied asylum seeker who moved from his homeland, via Kent, to Suffolk and was experiencing profound mental health issues as a result of all he had been through on his journey. His support worker Natalie says that when she first met him, ‘he was blank behind the eyes, never smiled and rarely spoke’. After just a few sessions of equine therapy, he has opened up and can be heard laughing and joking with his coach and the RDA volunteers. As Natalie states, ‘It’s completely changed his life. It was the first time I saw him smile’. Through the therapy sessions, he has grown in confidence and has even expressed his ambition to become a volunteer for the RDA in the future.

The results of those who attend the group goes far beyond physical therapy, it also offers routine to those who attend, builds confidence, independence, improves wellbeing and in some cases even helps people into work.

As we toured the building it was clear that the expense of operating the group was vast. The bespoke built horse arena was perfect for their needs and included features that may easily be overlooked such as large specially made mirrors, a waxed silica sand and wool mix floor not to mention the cost of fuel, food and equipment. Kelvin explained that 55% of their income came from grants, without successful grant bids they could not survive. After our tour we sat down with Kelvin over a cuppa and asked him how the Funding 4 Suffolk portal has helped him.

What do you use Funding 4 Suffolk for?

The Majority of our grants are for running costs, we subsidize everything we do. A lot of it is just us making sure cost doesn’t become a barrier to participation. It would be terrible if our costs turned people away. Equipment costs soon add up, for example we provide riding hats which are £100 each as we know that many of our participants are on a limited income and could simply not afford their own hats. There is an endless conveyor belt of things we need and to replace. We use the Funding 4 Suffolk portal to search for the grants we need to cover these very specific costs.

How does using the Funding 4 Suffolk portal help find the right grant for you?

The filter function is really useful to us. Grants are very specific in what they will fund and with the variety of needs that we have it is really helpful to be able to quickly find the grant that will meet our needs.

We use the portal to shortlist for grants to make sure we find the grant that we can meet the criteria for. The last thing we want to do is spend time and effort putting together a grant bid that will be turned down.

What are the benefits of using the Funding 4 Suffolk portal?

The portal has lots of information including what the grant will and won’t fund, this saves us diving into multiple websites to find the information we need. All the information is in one place and when faced with a specific problem like buying a dressage saddle for Lulu the filtering process is really helpful it would otherwise be a google search.

The funding alert system is also helpful to make sure opportunities are not missed and the fact that it is free is vital.

Funding 4 Suffolk is a completely free portal allowing those who use it easy access to hundreds of grant options. It includes a useful filtering system and alerts function. The portal is a great way to save time when looking for grant opportunities and makes the whole process so much easier. To find out more visit

If you would like to find out more about the amazing work done by RDA (Woodbridge & District Group) visit Like many local charities RDA Woodbridge relies on a team of incredible volunteers but they always need more support. If you would like to find out more about volunteering the group would love to hear from you. You can also visit for more volunteering opportunities.