Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution

R.A.B.I operates throughout England and Wales to provide financial support, guidance and practical care to those in need within the farming community. Having identified areas of divergence between the needs of the community and the fulfilment of these, R.A.B.I acts as an enabling force for these needs to be met, primarily through its grant making programmes.

Tailored to individual needs, confidential support is available to farmers and farm-workers of all ages. R.A.B.I provides a range of support via programmes of both enduring regular and one-off grants. Support is accessed via referral or through the charity’s free confidential helpline (0808 281 9490), with all of R.A.B.I’s team of case support officers being fully trained to assist with state benefit claims. To supplement services provided at the charity’s two residential homes, R.A.B.I can provide assistance with care home fees.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

R.A.B.I provides a free confidential helpline (0800 281 9490) and face to face support to the farming community.  We seek to encourage those working in farming, for whom the suicide rates are amongst the highest of any UK occupation and 1.9 times higher than the national average, to find appropriate support.  Our Case Officers are based locally across England and Wales and work with networks of local and national providers, agricultural membership bodies and other agricultural support organisations to facilitate getting assistance to those in need of support.

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What are your current priorities?

Whilst the farming sector is increasingly aware of the incidence and impact of poor mental health and suicide, research to understand the factors that underlie these issues is needed before long-term, effective solutions can be designed and delivered.  R.A.B.I is focussed on broadening our understanding of how the challenges of farming life affect those who farm, so that we can use this knowledge to develop and deliver flexible and accessible programmes of support that reach more of our community.  R.A.B.I is working to build on existing partnerships to forge enduring relationships with local communities, government agencies and local and national specialist organisations to work collaboratively to complete research and develop and deliver collaboratively comprehensive support packages.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

The farming community is often insular in nature and a significant stigma remains attached to the issues of mental health and suicide.  Whilst much great work has been completed to begin to break-down some of the resistance to talk about mental health, talking openly about mental health and suicide remains far from the norm for the majority of farmers. The response to the increased awareness of poor mental health and high suicide rates across the sector has been somewhat fragmented and there has been little application to date as to how to address issues on a macro level. There is a requirement to look ahead and ask some fundamental questions about what the future looks like for the farming community, so that we can design holistic and flexible support packages that will be really effective in making a difference and R.A.B.I believe these issues are  too great for us to try to tackle alone.    The immediate challenge is to bring together more formally and effectively the major farming and specialist support organisations to establish how we understand and tackle this problem collectively.

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