Practical and pastoral support for farming families

WE have so much to thank Welsh farmers for. As well as providing high-quality food and drink, they are also responsible for preserving the beautiful Welsh countryside, protecting the environment and looking after local wildlife. But times are tough for farmers. They are regularly forced to deal with uncontrollable issues such as animal disease, fluctuating market prices and the weather. Farming can also be a very isolating and lonely occupation, which requires spending many hours with little or no form of social interaction. Farmers also deal with issues in their personal life, such as relationship breakdowns, physical health problems and bereavement.

All of this means that the farming community is highly susceptible to poor mental health. Sadly, more than one farmer a week in the UK dies by suicide.

Simply talking to someone is often the first step to improving one’s mental health – this is where The Farming Community Network (FCN) can help.

FCN is a charity that supports members of the farming community through difficult times. The charity runs a confidential national helpline and e-helpline which is open every day of the year from 7am-11pm. Approximately 40 of FCN’s 400+ volunteers are based in Wales, many of whom provide practical and pastoral support to anyone who seeks help, whether the issue is personal or business-related. They are there to help for as long as it takes, “walking with” people and helping them find a positive outcome to their situation.

That first conversation with FCN can be a huge obstacle to overcome, but trying to express your emotions in a second language makes that

obstacle even greater – and for many within the farming community in Wales, English is their second language.
Recently, FCN has seen a surge in support in Wales from a variety of stakeholders, including agricultural organisations, mental health services and government agencies. As such, the number of people in Wales turning to FCN for support is increasing.

Therefore we are looking for people to join our ever-expanding network of volunteers. We are particularly keen to recruit Welsh- speaking volunteers who would be willing to take calls on our national helpline. You don’t need to be from a farming or agricultural background to become an FCN volunteer – you just need to be passionate about helping the farming community.

Further information about volunteering with FCN is available at www.fcn.org.uk/volunteering

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