'Don't suffer in silence this winter': FCN's message to farming community

Silhouette of a farmer in a field

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 (aGVscEBmY24ub3JnLnVr) which is open every day of the year from 7am to 11pm.

The 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.

Rise in calls relating to mental health

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.

In April 2020, 56% of all calls presented to FCN were related to COVID-19, and the pandemic has remained a source of concern for the farming community in the following months. Nearly half of all calls in the past four months have related to mental health, overtaking financial difficulties which has previously been the most common factor in calls received. Concerns around mental health and wellbeing were a factor in:

  • 52% of calls in June
  • 53% of calls in July
  • 47% of calls in August
  • 45% of calls in September

This includes stress and anxiety caused by issues such as financial concerns, family relationship problems, Brexit uncertainty and COVID-19.

FCN CEO Jude McCann said:

“This data presents an important insight into the lived experiences of farmers throughout England and Wales this year. 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."

Ways to get in touch

FCN encourages anyone living in rural communities experiencing issues big or small to get in touch. No one should have to suffer in silence.

FCN’s helpline 03000 111 999 and e-helpline aGVscEBmY24ub3JnLnVr are open every day of the year, 7am-11pm.

FarmWell

FCN’s FarmWell platform at farmwell.org.uk is a one-stop resource for guidance and information around personal and business resilience.

The FarmWell Wales platform – launched earlier this year by the Wales Farm Support Group and part funded by the Welsh Government – tailors content for Welsh farmers and is available in English and Welsh.

FCN has also launched its ‘Time to Plan’ project. Working with a range of industry partners, FCN is providing helpful resources and insights about planning ahead and responding to changes affecting the industry.

Click here for the resources.

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