Farm charity's countryside care burden warning

A charity set up to relieve acute financial pressures within the farming community has used most of its funds in Yorkshire this year to help the elderly, sick and disabled.

Picture by James Hardisty.

To date more than £158,000 has been shared by The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I) between 125 different farming families or individuals in the Yorkshire region.

The majority of this total, some £135,377, has gone to people whom the charity provides ongoing support to and most are elderly, retired, sick and disabled, the charity said.

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Its chief executive, Paul Burrows, said R.A.B.I is committed to looking after members of the farming community throughout their lives, not just when they are working, but warned that the profile of the people it regularly supports, both in Yorkshire and nationally, was indicative of increasing demands on the country’s care sector, which he believes will only get worse.

Nationally, between the start of January and mid-September, the charity gave more than £1.1m in grants to the retired, sick and disabled. Of that, almost £100,000 went towards disability aids, equipment and adaptations, and more than £92,000 has been paid out in care home top-up fees - the difference between how much a council is willing to pay a care home and the care home’s fee to self-funding residents.

Most substantial though was a sum in excess of £214,000 that was awarded to help cover the costs of home help in countryside communities where elderly people can find themselves isolated from support services that are more prolific in towns and cities.

Mr Burrows said: “In today’s world there are so many challenges people must face in later life and health issues can be draining, both physically and mentally.

“But help might just be a phone call away. We support farming people of all ages, including retired farmers, farmworkers and dependants.

“Once a farmer, always a farmer, that’s our motto, and I urge people who don’t know where to turn for support, to get in touch with us.”

Mr Burrows added: “Most of us will need to rely on care at some point in our lives, if not for ourselves, then for loved ones.

“Demands on the care sector are already great, but things are only likely to get worse with a rapidly rising older population.

“We understand the anxieties many older people face and we are committed to offering long-term support to families in financial hardship from the farming sector. It’s simple; we’re here for the long haul.”

Like other farm support charities, R.A.B.I’s North East branch, which covers Yorkshire, has had a presence at agricultural shows throughout the year where its representatives, led by regional manager Sally Conner, have been a visible point of contact for the farming community.

The branch has a series of fundraising events planned during the autumn and winter, starting with a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ style dinner and dance at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate on November 11.

A Christmas concert will be held at Swinton Castle in Masham on December 4, a Christmas carol service at York Auction Mart on December 7 and an advent afternoon tea at Bishop Wilton Village Hall on December 10.

For more details about any of these events, contact Mrs Conner on 01964 541400.