Agrii and FCN working together to support the Farming Community - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

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August 28, 2014

Agrii and FCN working together to support the Farming Community

Earlier this year, Agrii teamed up with the charity Farming Community Network (FCN) to promote the work that they do helping farming families.  The charity describes what they do as ‘walking with’ people as they make their way through problems and difficulties so that they don’t have to face them on their own. FCN does not provide advice but can help to guide people as they resolve their problems; with links to sources of professional advice, appropriate help can be brought in when required.

Ronan Hughes of Agrii said: “Agrii serves the farming community and our people live and work in rural areas. As such we are aware of how fortunate we are to live in the British countryside, but also of the challenges that it can sometimes bring. We heard about FCN and approached them to find out whether and how we could help. Since then, I have learned more about the excellent work they do and we are committed to doing what we can to raise their profile in our industry”.

2014 has been a busy year for Charles Smith, the CEO of FCN. He and his small office team face the multiple challenges of starting new projects, raising awareness of their work, and the day job of co-ordinating their network of volunteers who directly help farming families.  Here, Charles explains about FCN’s current top projects:

  • FCN is acutely aware of the potentially lonely existence of some farmers; that is why we are creating a chaplaincy presence at livestock markets.  Experience shows that it can take up to 18 months of regular attendance to build trust before someone is able to ask for help.  We know that people suffer in silence for many months before eventually seeking help and we hope that by becoming part of their working environment we can shorten that time.
  • The Fit for Farming Workshop manual, carrying the warning: “Reading this may improve your health” is light hearted in approach but serious in intent. A joint publication between The Men’s Health Forum, FCN and Haynes, it is designed to look like a Haynes Workshop manual, acknowledging the tendency among this demographic to hide health problems rather that tackle them head on.  It includes sections on Wellbeing, Accidents, Ageing well, Farm Occupational health matters, information on the various ways to contact the NHS, as well as other key health topics.
  • This year, FCN has again been at the heart of the flood relief effort in the South West of England. Although it is now out of the headlines, farmers will continue to suffer the effects for the foreseeable future. The most urgent problem farms face is how they will produce enough fodder for the approaching winter months. We have a team of volunteers who are systematically visiting farms to find out what practical help is needed and to then put farmers in touch with those who are donating help, while offering pastoral support throughout.
  • I have also been working closely with the RPA on the Assisted Digital project linked to the impending CAP reforms. In particular I am keen to ensure that the agency realise that not all farmers have the infrastructure or the skills to support on-line applications, and that their roll out plans must take this into account. Our links with government agencies mean that farmers have an empathetic representative at the centre of policy making.

Agrii is working closely with FCN to increase awareness of its work, help raise funds and encouraging staff to get involved or become volunteers. To find out more about the work of FCN in farming communities, visit their website at: