WITH the coronavirus pandemic creating personal and financial hardship for farmers and farm businesses across Cumbria and the rest of the UK, charities have sought to develop new strategies to offer advice and assistance.

The move has seen NFU Mutual Charitable Trust announce there will be an added £750,000 donation to support national organisations in reaching isolated and vulnerable individuals as well as families facing financial challenges due to the pandemic.

Farmer and chairman of NFU Mutual Jim McLaren said: “Adding protection for farmers will support the agricultural industry when the nation needs it most.” This additional funding has been granted to the Farm Safety Foundation (FSF), in order to allow the charity to continue to help young farmers minimise risk on farm and educate the community on the link between farm safety and mental health. In collaboration with the trust alongside the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) and the NFU, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) Farming Community Network (FCN), Forage Aid and RSABI, supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, are working together to support the farming community. The initiative will see organisations and volunteer networks offer support to farmers affected by Covid-19 via a Farming Help helpline, operated by the FCN.

Reinforcing the importance of providing a support network for farmers where they can ‘reach out’, Emma Picton-Jones, founder of the mental health charity the DPJ Foundation, said they had ensured their fully funded counselling was still available by Skype and their call line is still open.“We are also operating a #dpjbuddy system, which allows those who feel isolated at this time to have a friendly chat with one of our volunteers.”

RABI chief executive, Alicia Chivers said: “Despite the dramatic fall in our income as a result of this dreadful situation, we remain committed to providing support to our existing beneficiaries and to anyone in farming who needs our help. Whilst our teams are working remotely from homes across the country, we are open as usual to provide support to anyone in the farming community. These are extremely challenging times so calls for help or advice are available via our freephone helpline on 0808 281 9490.” #backingbritishfarmers