Two of the farming sector’s main charities joined forces at the Thame Barn Centre in Oxfordshire to spread the word about what help is available for those struggling in the industry.
Jenni Thompson, R.A.B.I’s South Central regional manager and Charles Smith, chief executive of the Farming Community Network (FCN) were guest speakers at the breakfast event focused on ‘agricultural challenges in a changing landscape’.
Jenni said: “The purpose of this breakfast seminar was to tell local business people and third sector organisations about the services we offer and the help we can provide to those in the farming community.
“At R.A.B.I we do much more than you think. For example, we have given out grants of £85k to people affected by this winter’s storms and in 2015 we paid more than £221k towards clearing domestic bills. We also helped people claim more than £390k in state benefits and tax credits last year. Sadly, many people in the modern farming world continue to struggle and their problems are increasingly complex.”
For many farmers the FCN telephone helpline, which is open from 07:00 until 23:00 every day of the year, is the first step in seeking support with problems that affect the farm or the farming family. While financial problems are top of the list, animal health and welfare, bureaucracy, bereavement, ill-health and accidents, retirement and succession plans and domestic problems can seem to be much worse in the relative isolation of a rural lifestyle. When such problems are not addressed, they can affect the whole family and lead to depression and poor mental well being.
Charles Smith made it clear that FCN volunteers are ready to help. He said: “We say to the farming community, whatever the problem we are here to help. Don’t bottle it all up and struggle on in silence, pick up the phone and talk to us.”
The Thame Barn Centre breakfast seminar was organised by R.A.B.I and FCN and supported by Barclays Bank. Also present were Adam White, Barclays National Performance Manager and Sarah Taylor of Rycote Park Estate, who is soon to become the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.
Pictured left to right are Charles, Adam, Sarah and Jenni.