Rural England Stakeholder – The Farming Community Network

Farmers Community NetworkThe Farming Community Network (FCN) is a national Christian charity providing pastoral and practical support to farming families during periods of stress and anxiety. Farming is not always the idyllic occupation it appears from the outside with many farming families making do with extremely low incomes whilst often suffering from the effects of overwork. Isolation is a major issue and sadly, all too frequently, farmers suffer from clinical depression which if left uncared for can lead to suicide.

FCN runs a national helpline from 7am to 11pm every day of the year. Talking with someone who understands farming but is not directly involved in their situation can be a great relief. Callers can then be referred to a local volunteer who will walk alongside them as they seek to improve their circumstances. This service is free and completely confidential and Volunteers are available for as long as they are needed.

Issues causing anxiety are many and varied and include financial difficulties; problems with Government bureaucracy, physical and mental health problems, relationship breakdowns, animal health and welfare problems and dealing with bereavement and succession. Whatever the difficulty or the complexity of the situation, FCN Volunteers, of whom there are almost 400 across England and Wales, are prepared to spend as much time as is required to support farming families as they seek a resolution.

Farming families are frequently the foundations of rural communities, helping to secure the future of village schools, shops and Churches, whilst producing food for the nation and caring for our beautiful countryside. It is therefore critical that we in turn care for them, supporting our long term rural residents to help maintain sustainable communities in areas where services and facilities are under constant threat. Of particular concern are the growing number of young people who are approaching FCN for help. Frequently, though they are keen to remain in the countryside, their feeling of isolation from mainstream youth activities and opportunities can lead them to feel that there is little hope for their future. FCN is working closely with the National Federation of Young Farmers on a project called Rural+ to provide bespoke support to the next generation as they seek to find their place in our rural communities.

FCN has links with sources of professional expertise which can be brought into a situation as appropriate. FCN’s primary objective is to encourage and empower people to make their own decisions and regain their sense of value, purpose and direction.

The FCN (in association with Plymouth University) are investigating the impact of dementia on farming communities.

 

e-Helpline: chris@fcn.org.uk

Telephone Helpline: 03000 111 999

Website: www.fcn.org.uk