Winter support vow for Yorkshire’s rural families

Kate Dale, co-ordinator of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network.
Kate Dale, co-ordinator of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network.
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A leading farm support group has warned that stress “bubbling underneath the surface” risks catching up with farmers in the winter months ahead.

As work in the fields winds down for the changing seasons farmers are being reminded that it is good to talk at the end of a tough harvest season disrupted by frequent wet weather.

Philippa Coultish, chairwoman of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network.

Philippa Coultish, chairwoman of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network.

But rather than farmers bottling up frustration, which may be compounded by other stresses associated with managing their land and working in relative isolation alongside family members - often on tight budgets - the Yorkshire Rural Support Network is keen to offer its support.

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society runs the Network whose members include representatives from the Farming Community Network, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Farm Stay UK, the Country Land and Business Association and the National Farmers’ Union, among many others.

Speaking at a meeting yesterday, members said they were increasingly aware of the need for health and well-being support in rural Yorkshire, with loneliness and social isolation also a growing concern.

Philippa Coultish, the Network’s chairwoman, told The Yorkshire Post: “From talking to others in the industry it is clear that it’s bubbling underneath the surface and comes to the fore over winter when farmers have time to take stock. For us, it’s about offering that support to remind them there is plenty out there.”

Kate Dale, the Network’s co-ordinator, added: “People think asking for help is failing but accidents happen, bereavements happen, and it has a massive impact when things go wrong.

“We want people to feel confident enough to feel they can ask for support, whether from friends and neighbours, or whether it is external help.”

They said they were encouraged by more farmers attending health checks with nurses at auction marts this year, helped by extra funding from the Two Ridings Community Foundation.

Over winter, health checks will be held at Thirsk Mart on November 30, at Ripon Farm Services open day at the Great Yorkshire Showground on January 10 and the next day at Farmstar’s open day at Marr near Doncaster, and also at the Yorkshire Machinery Show in York on February 7.

Macmillan’s mobile cancer information centre will be at York Mart on October 19 and Malton Mart on November 3, and a farming community lunch takes place at the Gavel Cafe, Thirsk Mart on October 11. For more details, email Kated@yas.co.uk