Happy New Year to you all. I do hope you all managed to celebrate Christmas and New Years in your own personal ways.
Most of us will understandably be keen to leave behind 2020, which was for so many a difficult and challenging year. It appears that we will all continue to face personal and work-life restrictions for the next few months.
But as we make our way through these challenging periods we should reflect on some extraordinarily positive developments that should make for a brighter future. Firstly and importantly from a health and wellbeing perspective, the rollout of vaccines – whilst presenting a logistical challenge – will lead to a defeat of the virus.
Secondly, with a Brexit deal agreed there is reduced fear of leaving the EU in chaos – as seemed possible a very short time ago. At least we now know the shape of Brexit and some of the potential impacts, which will allow us to plan and play our part in supporting farm communities through these changes.
This week I reflect on the year I have been with FCN. I joined FCN as Chief Executive Officer in January 2020, before we understood the extent to which Covid-19 would disrupt the global economy and industries such as our own. With having now left the European Union, we are entering a bold new period in UK agriculture. As we adapt to the changes to come, we will need to work together, stay resilient, support one another and remain optimistic for the future.
With the latest lockdown announcement from the Government in England and strict rules in place in Wales and the rest of the UK, FCN volunteers are for now being advised to continue to support the farming community remotely, over the phone and through platforms such as Zoom. Naturally, we look forward to when it is feasible for us to return to marts, markets, shows and other events, and where we can interact directly with the farming community and those who may be in need of our support.
In the meantime our free, confidential Helpline (03000 111 999) and e-Helpline (email@example.com) are still operating as normal, 365 days a year, 7am – 11pm. If you are concerned about issues on your farm, or you are worried about a friend, neighbour or family member, we encourage you to get in touch. We are here to listen, support you and connect you with appropriate help.
Our free FarmWell resource (farmwell.org.uk) provides a wealth of information around building personal and business resilience, and FarmWell Wales (farmwell.wales) and FarmWell Cymru (farmwell.cymru) can support those living and working in Wales.
And this year we continue our Time to Plan project, working with a range of industry partners and thought leaders to provide important information and guidance around planning ahead for the future. You can find out more about this initiative and how to get involved here: https://farmwell.org.uk/time-to-plan/
FCN is involved in a range of exciting partnerships that will help to ensure we can continue providing support to those in the farming community who need our help. As we continue to develop relationships with Farming Help partners (RABI, RSABI, Forage Aid and the Addington Fund) and many others we are grateful to those who work with us and help us to raise awareness of our charity. Together, we’re making a big difference and playing our role in backing British farming and building a resilient farming future for generations to come.
We hope that this period of lockdown will help stop the spread of Covid-19, and remain hopeful that later this year we will be in a position where we can see one another again.
Stay safe, and best wishes to you all for 2021.
- Jude McCann, FCN CEO