Charity offers support to farmers in difficulty

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FARMERS should learn to seek help before a problem becomes a crisis, a leading farm welfare charity has said.

Sam Brinkley, Norfolk co-ordinator for the Farm Crisis Network (FCN), said that nationally there had been a number of farmer suicides, like that of East Harling farmer Stephen Brown.

He added: “When somebody is so busy physically, with so many plates to spin, it’s difficult to gain the clarity that something is wrong and you are not operating properly.

“We have the word ‘crisis’ within our name but if someone contacts us early we might be able to do a lot to help them avoid a crisis so, in many situations we might be able to turn it around. There might be an organisation we know or contacts we have who might help, rather than picking up the pieces after a crisis.”

FCN nationally has 320 volunteers trained to help on the personal side with things, like depression and thoughts of suicide, and on the business side. It also works with organisations like Norfolk’s You Are Not Alone, which helps farmers with depression and mental health problems, and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

Mr Brinkley said farmers are vulnerable because of the isolation of their work and because family and work life are not as easily segregated as in most occupations.

FCN’s national helpline for farmers who need help, or those phoning on their behalf, is 0845 367 9990.