Lincolnshire Rural Support Network has quickly adapted to the challenges posed by COVID-19 so it can deliver a full range of services where possible, while ensuring the safety of its team of staff and volunteers.
Project manager, Alison Twiddy, said: "Farming is an industry that is used to isolation, but the sheer scale and horror of the coronavirus pandemic is making itself felt in our rural communities.
"Here at LRSN we are ready, willing and able to help Lincolnshire’s farming and rural families through whatever problems they face in the coming weeks and months.
"As far as possible, we are providing the full range of LRSN services, though we are mindful of government guidelines and the need to stay safe and protect ourselves, our families and the wider community.
"The recent appointment of Gilly Steel, our health and wellbeing lead, means we are in a good position to help anyone needing emotional help and support during what will be an incredibly difficult time for us all.”
LRSN’s free, confidential helpline, 0800 138 1710, will be open every day from 8am to 6pm and volunteers will be available throughout this time to take calls from people who are struggling themselves, from worried friends and from colleagues.
LRSN staff and volunteers will continue to deliver a confidential casework service to the current caseload of 80 farming and rural families. We fully expect an increase in new cases of agricultural and rural folk whose lives and businesses will be impacted by this additional pressure.
For the period of current government restrictions, face-to-face contact will be kept to a minimum and only undertaken in exceptional cases where there is considered to be significant risk of danger or harm. LRSN will deliver this service through a variety of telephone and IT channels including video apps.
LRSN’s chairman, Meryl Ward, added: “In common with every other business and organisation, LRSN has reviewed and revised its services in line with government restrictions regarding social distancing.
"Policy decisions taken by Louth Livestock Market and Spalding Auction mean that we have had to withdraw our health screening and outreach services at both of these locations until the current advice and guidance is relaxed, but we look forward to reinstating the wonderful service our nurses provide at the earliest opportunity.
“Working with others will play a key part of LRSN’s coronavirus action plan and we will be collaborating with private, public and third sector colleagues to provide the best possible service and response in these challenging times.
"The whole LRSN team of volunteers, staff and trustees are confident that these plans, which will be reviewed regularly in line with government advice and an ever-changing situation, will enable us to respond to those who need our help and support.
"If you need us, we are here for you, however simple or complicated your issues, wherever you are in Lincolnshire. Please call us.”