By Jo Turnbull, trustee
A few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of someone R.A.B.I had supported for almost 20 years. To maintain confidentiality, let’s call him George.
George first came to our attention when he was living in awful conditions not far from where he had farmed all his life. He had no family and few friends. For most of that time he worked very much under his father’s direction, but when his father died George took over the farm tenancy.
It was only a small place and George worked alone, but life was far from easy. Ultimately, he was declared bankrupt and forced to leave the only place he’d ever lived when he was in his 60s. This was when R.A.B.I stepped in to help.
George was accepted as a ‘beneficiary’ which meant he received a regular living allowance every three months to top up his pension. In addition, he received Christmas hampers and winter fuel grants and we also replaced some of his very old – and barely working – white goods.
One of our team visited regularly to ensure he was coping and to make sure he was receiving the state benefits that he was entitled to. As George got older, he became less able to look after himself, so we helped find a suitable care home for him to go into. We also paid his topup fees – the shortfall between what the care home charged and what the Local Authority was willing to pay. It meant he could live in a home of his choice, surrounded by likeminded people – many of whom became his friends.
As a charity, R.A.B.I helps lots of men (and women) like George. Within farming, many people devote their lives to working the land but eventually find they can no longer manage and leave the industry with little to show for their efforts and their loyalty. I’m also sure that we all know someone like George who is struggling to cope alone, completely unsupported.
In addition to giving grants for living allowances we help many older farmers obtain vital mobility aids, including all-terrain scooters, or specialist beds and chairs. We will even pay for home adaptations where appropriate. It’s about providing those little extras that go a long way to significantly enhancing someone’s quality of life.
It’s my belief that every George deserves our gratitude, our respect and our support. If you know someone who worked in farming, who could do with that little bit of extra help, please call our Freephone Helpline 0800 188 4444.