National rural charity The Farming Community Network (FCN) is urging agricultural workers in England and Wales not to suffer in silence this winter, as the industry enters one of the most challenging periods it has ever faced.
FCN runs a confidential national Helpline (03000 111 999) and e-Helpline (firstname.lastname@example.org) which is open every day of the year from 7am to 11pm. FCN’s Helpline is operated by volunteers who are from farming backgrounds and understand farming pressures.
FCN is encouraging those experiencing feelings of isolation, anxiety or other concerns this winter to call or email its Helpline for a confidential chat.
The charity, which provides support to farming families and others who work in the industry, has seen a significant shift in the reasons people are calling its Helpline during recent months – with an increase in calls relating to mental health.
Mark Thomas, FCN’s Helpline Manager and Regional Director for the South of England, said: “Nearly half of all calls made to our support Helpline over the past four months have related to mental health and wellbeing, overtaking financial difficulties which has previously been the most common factor in calls received.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many farmers and their businesses and 2020 has also brought a range of other challenges – such as flooding and drought in different parts of the UK, poor crop yields and concerns about the short and long term effects post-Brexit rural policy may have on the industry. All of these heighten feelings of stress and anxiety and put pressure on family relationships.
“FCN encourages those living in rural communities to get in touch with us. Whether the issues you’re experiencing are big or small, no one should have to suffer in silence. FCN’s Helpline (03000 111 999) is open every day of the year, 7am-11pm. Every year we help hundreds of farming families through difficult times. Our volunteers throughout England and Wales, many of whom are from farming backgrounds, are here to help.”