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Issue date: 25th January
The Farming Community Network (FCN) is teaming up with Nottinghamshire Rural Support (NRS) to provide continued support to the farming community during this period of immense change in British agriculture.
Building on this collaboration a new FCN Nottinghamshire County Group will be formed, ensuring that support for those living and working in farming communities in Nottinghamshire continues uninterrupted.
FCN is a national voluntary organisation and charity that supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. Trained volunteers, many of whom are from farming backgrounds, provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help, regardless of whether the issue is personal or business-related. Each year FCN helps roughly 6,000 people in the farming community.
NRS provides free volunteer support for farmers, their families and others in the rural community in Nottinghamshire who are going through difficult times that may be leading to anxiety and stress.
By coming together, the expertise and support networks of both organisations will be combined, ensuring a smooth transition.
Jude McCann, Chief Executive Officer of The Farming Community Network, said: “Working together with Nottinghamshire Rural Support during this transition period continues a close working relationship supporting the farming community we have had for many years.
“This is a period of immense change in our industry and many farmers will need support in the coming months and years. This joined-up approach will allow us to consolidate our efforts and continue providing vital support to those most in need.”
Michael Arlington, a farmer and Trustee of Nottinghamshire Rural Support, said: “NRS has the sole aim of trained volunteers being freely available to those farmers and rural people in the county who are going through difficult times and need to share their problems and who seek a listening ear. NRS Trustees now believe that this is best achieved by becoming part of FCN.
“For our 8 years we have been working hand in glove with FCN and see this as a natural progression to best achieve our aims. The increased resources available for training and support will be of benefit to Notts folk.”
NRS work closely with The Farming Community (FCN) which has been supporting the farming community and wider industry through difficult times for 25 years this year. To help celebrate, FCN Midland’s Regional Manager, Peter Hardy, cycled 25miles through each of 6 counties in the Midlands. NRS were proud to support Peter for his last leg from Newark to Melton Mowbray on Sunday 11th October 2020.
We are very sad to announce that Peter Geldart will be retiring as the Chairman and as a Trustee of NRS with effect from 30th April 2020.
We would like to thank Peter for all the hard work and time he has put into the charity over the years.
February 2020 – With the flooding in Nottinghamshire still affecting people badly in places, please remember that we are here to offer support. We are ready to support anyone who has been overwhelmed by the floods and we have a pack of information about sources of further support, help and advice to send out. Please get in contact through our helpline or social media to request one.
We are here to help those who might be affected by flooding. We know that real impact of the flooding to the farming community will only become clear after the floods recede. We can help to refer farmers to the NFU Flooding Toolbox, Govt. funding for flooded farms (up to £25k) and to RABI. Get in touch, we are here to listen and lesson the burden.
Another enjoyable evening at The Dovecote Inn in Laxton on November 14th, thanks to those that braved the weather. It was worth it, if not for the chat then definitely the pie, delicious!
Starting in Sturton le Steeple on 19th September, we are hosting pie and peas nights around the County. Keep a look out for one that is local to you! Look at events for details.
We are very excited to announce that our annual fun golf competition will take place on 17th June at Norwood Park. Please see our EVENTS page for full details and application form.
Better support needed to help farmers under pressure, warn charities
Greater recognition and support is needed to help Britain’s farming families meet the challenges facing UK agriculture, says a coalition of rural charities and industry organisations.
The warning is contained in a Health and well-being Research Report prepared by researchers from the University of Lincoln and rural economic consultants Rose Regeneration.
It was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Farmers, which led an industry forum comprising 20 farming charities, rural organisations and support groups.
The report paints a picture of an agricultural industry with lots of potential – but an urgent need for a more holistic approach to support if those working in the sector are to thrive.
Concerns include major challenges around mental health, long working hours and rural isolation – as well as unpredictable weather, uncertain global markets and volatile commodity prices.
Wide-ranging changes in government policies for agriculture due to Brexit will add to these pressures – requiring many farm businesses to rethink the way they operate.
While some farmers and farm businesses are well-placed to deal with these changes, others are not.
Two thirds of younger farmers report being good physical health, they are most likely to say that their mental health is only ‘about average’.
There are also social and cultural factors that affect health and well-being behaviours in farmers.
In general, stoic attitudes may make it more likely for people living and working in rural communities to deny health problems, says the report.
Stakeholders and rural support organisations suggest that there may be under-reporting of suicide among farming occupations.
Statistics on suicide by occupation only includes those up to the age of 65, meaning that farmers who continue working beyond traditional retirement age are not included in the data.
Academics, organisations and charities highlighted in the study have also identified a series of economic or business factors affecting the farming sector.
These include declining farm gate prices, changing weather patterns, animal diseases, and the burden created by the large number of regulatory bodies.
While some farmers continue to operate while making a loss – relying upon credit to keep their farm business going, others diversify their activities to generate income on or off the farm.
Succession planning and the pressure to retain the farm within the family can put extra stress on farmers to continue, says the report.
The pressure of maintaining the legacy of the family farm combined with social and physical isolation, living in a close-knit community means people are sometimes reluctant to seek help.
The situation is exacerbated by a reduction in services over the last 10 years which has contributed to a downward spiral in health and well-being among rural communities.
At the same time, public bodies and national organisations that support communities are increasingly beset with enquiries and referrals.
These include health (NHS), social care (local authorities), welfare and debt (Citizens Advice).
This means local, regional and national support groups and charities which specifically help farmers, their families and rural communities are being called on more than ever before.
Often locally managed, these rural support groups are embedded within the communities they look after – frequently made-up of staff, volunteers and trustees from the local area.
They are often best-placed to help because they are known, seen and trusted by farming communities who feel able to ask for support on their own terms.
But all support groups have finite resources and some struggle to raise the funds or recruit the staff needed to meet the demands of their increased workload.
This leads some groups to become project focused – because funders can be reluctant to cover core costs – and means that they are unable to plan for the longer-term.
The study says increasing openness about mental health and well-being in agriculture provides an opportunity for support groups to develop new tools and approaches to the help they offer.
“A number of other countries have national initiatives to promote well-being among farmers and farming communities,” says WCF former master Philip Wynn, who initiated the Forum.
Those countries include New Zealand, which set up a nationwide FarmStrong programme to help them manage their health and well-being.
The FarmStrong initiative encourages farmers to perform at their best by sharing health and well-being tips – building up resilience while recognising the pressures involved in agriculture.
“A similar initiative in the UK would reduce the stigma of asking for help and encourage more farmers to access support sooner rather than later,” says Mr Wynn.
The report makes a number of recommendations:
enhance the help provided to staff, volunteers and trustees at support groups so they do not experience burnout as demands on their services increase.
collect data and evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of support groups and the positive difference they make to farming and rural communities.
improve networking between support groups and with other service providers so they can learn from one another and share resources where appropriate
better promote the work of rural support networks and highlight their benefits more effectively with government, statutory funders and major charities.
The establishment of a nationwide programme which takes a holistic approach to promote well-being among farming families and rural communities.