Farming Matters: Listening ear for the lonely

Stock image of lonely farmer
Stock image of lonely farmer

Farming can be a lonely job. Mechanisation has reduced the number of everyday staff workers and for jobs involving big expensive machines many farmers now rely on contractors to come in, do a specific job and then leave.

This can mean farmers working alone day after day, seven days a week. And because of the isolated location of farms, this loneliness can stretch to the farmer’s wife and children, too.

Lacking colleagues and close neighbours, if problems arise – be they business, financial or personal – farming families can turn to the Farming Community Network.

Founded in 1995, this registered charity has a network of 300 volunteers, who are all farmers or associated with the industry.

Operating throughout England and Wales the network runs a national confidential helpline (0845 367 9990) which is available from 7am-11pm every day.

A call to the helpline provides someone to chat to, and can help to point the way forward in terms of resolving difficulties.

It also links families with someone who will walk with them as they find a way out of troubled times.

Volunteers might help with never ending red tape, accompany a farmer to a meeting with his bank manager, arrange for help with farm work, or simply provide a sympathetic ear when needed.

In 2013 FCN dealt with more than 1,000 cases involving nearly 2,500 people.

And the support is there for as long as it is needed, whether that means a 20- minute telephone call to resolve a particular problem, or regular visits over weeks or months.