Warwickshire Rural Hub

We are a free membership organisation for farmers and rural businesses. We support them to become profitable and market-led enterprises with industry news and information on our website, in our monthly e-news, on daily social media posts and via knowledge transfer events. The Rural Hub also organises health and welfare events at livestock markets and other farmer events when we take along two nurses, a massage therapist and representatives from Farming Community Network and other farming support charities. We encourage the farmers to chat to us informally about any health concerns or request a private consultation with a nurse. The massage therapist gives free head and shoulder massages. Farming has a poor record of mental health and worryingly high numbers of suicide each year. Many farmers work in isolation and have to cope with fluctuations in income, changes in government strategy, extreme weather conditions affecting their business and animal health concerns.

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

We attend livestock markets and other farmer events with nurses, a massage therapist and representatives from welfare organisations to chat to farmers informally and encourage them to request a private consultation with a nurse if they have any health or welfare concerns. Our monthly e-news to our 1000 members and website contain contact details of welfare organisations who offer free support to farmers and farming families.

What are your current priorities?

Supporting farmers through agricultural transition. Government strategy post Brexit is changing the way farmers are financially supported and they will require information and support to help them move forward to a new funding scheme which will see their support payments reduce in most circumstances. Farmers will therefore need to identify new areas of income, farm smarter and more sustainably. This could prove challenging for some farmers.

What challenges are you currently facing?

The average age of a farmer is 59 years old and the majority of them are male. This demographic is notoriously unwilling to seek help or speak up about their health and welfare concerns. We aim to break down barriers by meeting them in the social environment of a livestock market cafe to chat to them informally over a cup and tea and breakfast. Our nurses and massage therapist circulate the cafe tables to persuade the farmers to have their blood pressure tested or to enjoy a free massage, rather than wait for the farmers to come up to us.